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Title: Investigation of renewable, coupled solar-hydrogen fuel generation with thermal management systems suitable for equatorial regions
Author: Wilson, Earle Anthony
ISNI:       0000 0004 2725 4879
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2010
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Solar Energy and Hydrogen (energy carrier) are possible replacement options for fossil fuel and its associated problems of availability and high prices which are devastating small, developing, oil-importing economies. But a major drawback to the full implementation of solar energy, in particular photovoltaic (PV), is the lowering of conversion efficiency of PV cells due to elevated cell temperatures while in operation. Also, hydrogen as an energy carrier must be produced in gaseous or liquid form before it can be used as fuel; but its‟ present major conversion process produces an abundance of carbon dioxide which is harming the environment through global warming. In search of resolutions to these issues, this research investigated the application of Thermal Management to Photovoltaic (PV) modules in an attempt to reverse the effects of elevated cell temperature. The investigation also examined the effects of coupling the thermally managed PV modules to a proton exchange membrane (PEM) Hydrogen Generator for the production of hydrogen gas in an environmentally friendly and renewable way. The research took place in Kingston, Jamaica. The thermal management involved the application of two cooling systems which are Gravity-Fed Cooling (GFC) and Solar-Powered Adsorption Cooling (SPAC) systems. In both systems Mathematical Models were developed as predictive tools for critical aspects of the systems. The models were validated by the results of experiments. The results of the investigation showed that both cooling systems stopped the cells temperatures from rising, reversed the negative effects on conversion efficiency, and increased the power output of the module by as much as 39%. The results also showed that the thermally managed PV module when coupled to the hydrogen generator impacted positively with an appreciably increase of up to 32% in hydrogen gas production. The results of this work can be applied to the equatorial belt but also to other regions with suitable solar irradiation. The research has contributed to the wider community by the development of practical, environmentally friendly, cost effective Thermal Management Systems that guarantee improvement in photovoltaic power output, by introducing a novel way to use renewable energy that has potential to be used by individual household and/or as cottage industry, and by the development of Mathematical Tools to aid in photovoltaic power systems designs.
Supervisor: Kolokotroni, M. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Gravity-fed cooling system ; Solar-powered adsorption cooling system ; Photovoltaic ; Proton exchange membrane (PEM) ; Fossil fuel