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Functional Benefit and End-of-Life Analysis for Photovoltaic Fluorescent Concentrator Prototype

McGinley, Katherine M. (2010) Functional Benefit and End-of-Life Analysis for Photovoltaic Fluorescent Concentrator Prototype. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The benefits of increased use of renewable sources such as photovoltaics to produce electricity are indisputable; however there is much work to be done in optimizing the implementation. Germany is in the forefront of research in the field of renewable energy, in large part due to governmental support in the form of the EEG, or Renewable Energy Act. My research was conducted at the GE Global Research labs in Munich, Germany, where new and innovative ways of harnessing energy from renewable sources are researched and developed.One method of decreasing the cost per Kilowatt is the use of fluorescent concentrators, such that less silicon-based cells are needed to produce an equivalent amount of electricity. In this technology, the body of the module is formed from plastic which has been impregnated with a fluorescent dye. Incident irradiation is absorbed by the dye particles, and reemitted with a shift in wavelength. A large part of this reemitted light is conducted along the length of the collector by means of internal reflection in the plastic panel, towards small silicon cells attached to the edges of the panel. This allows the light incident on a greater surface be conducted to a much smaller area of photovoltaic material, allowing much less silicon to be used. In our prototypes, full-spectrum sunlight was absorbed and the emitted radiation was of a lower wavelength (in the red part of the visible spectrum) which is more easily absorbed by the silicon cells and converted to useful energy. This wavelength shift helped combat any losses sustained in the transmission process.Great effort was put into the development of a suitable dye and plastic that could be used for such an application, and now the first prototypes have been in operation for a reasonable amount of time. The implementation of these prototypes, their modes of failure and degradation, and possible improvements for the system will be discussed.Modules approximately the same size as standard, currently-available silicon-based solar panels as well as a more experimental prototype modeled on more easily installed roof tiles will be investigated for both life-cycle of the physical prototype (including degradation of the dye) and comparative performance under various real-world conditions. This will help guide the further development of the technology, so it can eventually provide a less expensive means of providing solar-derived electricity to a greater number of people with a smaller drain on natural resources.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
McGinley, Katherine
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairWang, Qing-Mingqiw4@pitt.eduQIW4
Committee MemberWältermann,
Committee MemberZettl,
Committee MemberSlaughter, Williamwss@pitt.eduWSS
Date: 20 May 2010
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 19 March 2010
Approval Date: 20 May 2010
Submission Date: 30 March 2010
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Swanson School of Engineering > Mechanical Engineering
David C. Frederick Honors College
Degree: BS - Bachelor of Science
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: concentrator; energy; fluorescent; germany; green; photovoltaic; renewable; solar
Other ID:, etd-03302010-154543
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:33
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:37


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