UTILIZING PHASE-CHANGE MATERIAL TO THERMALLY REGULATE AND CAPTURE HEAT FROM BUILDING-INTEGRATED PHOTOVOLTAIC PANELS
Photovoltaic (PV) panels that are mounted with a traditional rack system can take advantage of the passive cooling driven by natural convection behind the panel. Building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) panels that are directly integrated into the envelope of the building cannot readily take advantage of natural convection. This makes envelope-integrated BIPV arrays ideal candidates for other methods of thermal regulation, in this case utilizing phase-change material (PCM). Recent investigations of PCM as a passive thermal regulation method for PV panels has shown promise. A simulated PV panel with constant 1000 W/m2 heat flux applied to a surface is used to investigate the thermal regulation properties of two PCM configurations: 1) bulk PCM and 2) encapsulated PCM in a non-circulating fluid bed. In addition to various PV/PCM configurations, two different PCM materials with different phase-change ranges are investigated: 29 °C and 37 °C. Baseline experiments of water and air will be used to compare the effectiveness of the PCM heat sink.