Microfluidics for solar efficiency

We are developing a microfluidic based thermal management device for application in high performance solar cells.

The Challenge

Making solar competitive

The global drive towards making solar energy more competitive has given rise to some amazing solar technologies, but low energy conversion efficiency and cost still pose significant challenges. 

The efficiency of commonly used commercial cells has just increased by 10 per cent during the last 30 years. This improvement is negated by operating temperature. For example, a cell operating at the average temperature of 55 degrees Celsius under Australian sun, can have a reduced energy yield be of over 15 per cent. 

The challenge is how manage the heat of the solar cell effectively to reduce the temperature so that the efficiency can be recovered.

Our Response

Partnering for solutions

In 2013, we joined forces with Swinburne University of Technology and secured $4 million in funding from the Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF). We are now working on ways to overcome these efficiency losses.

The goal of this ambitious project is to develop a large scale thermally stable solar cell technology with double the efficiency of current glass based thin film solar cells at half the cost.

The Results

Novel heat-pipe plate device for efficient heat removal

We are developing a heat-pipe based heat transfer device using microfluidics and novel materials for thermal management that could be integrated with solar cells for heat removal.

The current prototype has achieved a heat transfer efficiency 20 to 100 times more than that of copper plate. We are now working on lost fabrication and integration techniques.

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