The Investigation of the Evaporation Effect on the On-Demand Cooling of Solar Panels

Friday, February 12, 2016
Christopher Botello, John Jay Science and Engineering Academy, San Antonio, TX
Through prior research, it was determined that a solar panel will increase in power output if there is a decrease in its temperature. This characteristic of a solar panel is called its temperature coefficient which represents the percent change in power output as temperature changes. By cooling the panel with a misting cooling system an increase of 10-12% of the panel's output was seen. Although these results were successful, there was room for increasing the manifold's economic value. By creating a manifold with interchangeable parts as well as decreasing its water consumption, its economic value could be increased. In order to achieve a decrease in water consumption, an experiment that focused on the theorized evaporation effect of water was conducted.

In order to utilize the evaporation effect, the manifold worked on a set duty cycle. The duty cycle ensured a  period of time that the misters were off in order for the water on the panel to evaporate. To determine if the evaporation effect was actually cooling the panel, faster power measurement as well as a visual temperature measurement system were required. This led to the implementation of current and voltage transducers that created one second power data since power is a product of voltage and current. A thermal imaging system was also used in order to view the evaporation effect. The result of decreasing the misting times was a 10% power increase that was similar to the prior manifold's power increase while decreasing the water consumption, thus proving the hypothesis.