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Analysis of total solar efficiency of biomass, solar thermal, and photovoltaic technologies and evaluation of potential improvements via combination of the technologies

Tourkov, Konstantin (2016) Analysis of total solar efficiency of biomass, solar thermal, and photovoltaic technologies and evaluation of potential improvements via combination of the technologies. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This work examines several renewable energy resources on the basis of total solar energy efficiency and a detailed thermodynamic analysis of potential hybrid operation of several renewable energy technologies. The first part of the investigation focuses on creating a comparison between biomass, photovoltaic, and solar thermal renewable energy technologies alongside coal from the perspective of the energy pathway that originates from the energy received from the sun. This method accounts for the total energy pathway from the sun to electricity, as well as the energy investment required over the lifetime of a power plant.

The second step in the investigation is an analysis of a combination of photovoltaic technology and solar thermal technology via the use of concentrated photovoltaic cells and an organic Rankine cycle. The organic Rankine cycle is optimized by examining several configurations and working fluids with the goal of achieving highest performance for a constant temperature operating range. The behavior of the combined system is then analyzed for potential improvements.

A similar combination is then sought in the use of biomass gasification and solar thermal technology. A solar gasifier is proposed as the method of such a combination. A numerical investigation is carried out to more thoroughly examine the behavior of the solar gasifier. A CFD model is developed, utilizing a two-fluid approximation with reaction modeling for devolatilization, heterogeneous, and homogeneous chemical reactions. The results of the composition of product synthesis gas are compared to experimental work done by other groups.

The final section of the investigation is focused on utilizing results from the aforementioned numerical investigation to examine a potential molten salt solar gasification plant that produces electricity via a solid oxide fuel combined with a microturbine. A second law analysis of the system is carried out and several configurations for the fuel cell/micro-turbine system are examined for improvements in performance under various operating pressures. An overall system exergy efficiency is established and potential improvements are identified.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Tourkov, Konstantinknt7@pitt.eduKNT7
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSchaefer,
Committee MemberChyu,
Committee MemberKhanna,
Committee MemberCho, Sung
Date: 15 June 2016
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 28 March 2016
Approval Date: 15 June 2016
Submission Date: 30 March 2016
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 166
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Swanson School of Engineering > Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Organic Rankine cycle, photovoltaic, combined cycle, total solar efficiency, solar gasification, solid oxide fuel cell
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2016 19:56
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:32


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