Renewable energy: solar powerHybrid solar converter: Efficiency 85%

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Hybrid solar converter: Efficiency 85%

Unread Messageby GuyGadebois » 19/07/20, 18:34

Hybrid solar converter harvests both sunlight and heat with 85% efficiency

ImageThe photovoltaic module of the new hybrid solar converter
Matthew Escarra



Engineers have developed a new type of hybrid solar power converter, which uses the sun's energy to create both electricity and steam. The device would have a high efficiency and operate at low cost, which would allow the industry to use a wider spectrum of solar energy.

The most common way to collect energy from the sun is photovoltaics. These solar cells generate electricity from sunlight, and they're so simple they're built into everything from garden lights to the grid itself.

But this is not the only way. Solar concentrators collect heat instead of light, concentrating the sun's rays to heat a contained fluid. This can then be used to generate electricity - for example in the form of steam to turn a turbine - or more directly, to heat homes or for other industrial processes.

Normally these two systems are separate, but attempts have been made to couple them into single hybrid devices, often resulting in lower efficiency or higher cost. But now researchers say they've created a new hybrid solar power converter that combines the best of both worlds.

The device looks like a satellite dish, with a small device suspended from the center of a satellite dish. The flat part is mirrored and focuses the sun's rays on the box in the middle. The bottom of this section contains multi-junction solar cells, which collect and convert visible and ultraviolet light into electricity.

But the smart part is that these cells redirect infrared light - thermal energy - to a separate thermal receiver higher up in the device. This receiver is essentially a cup-shaped cavity surrounded by pressurized water, which picks up heat and turns into steam.

The team says the total collection efficiency is 85,1%, which means that a very large amount of solar energy is converted into electricity or heat. Steam can be heated up to 248 ° C (478 ° F), which is a much higher temperature than many other thermal energy collectors. This means that it is hot enough for many industrial processes, such as drying, curing, sterilization and pasteurization.

The other benefit is the cost. The team reports that once scaled, the hybrid device could operate for as little as 3 cents per kilowatt hour.

The team, which is made up of researchers from Tulane University, the University of San Diego, San Diego State University, Boeing-Spectrolab and Otherlab, has received follow-up funding for the next development cycle and plans to refine the technology and work to scale it up for pilot plant testing.


The research was published in the journal Cell Reports Physical Science.

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Re: Hybrid solar converter: Efficiency 85%

Unread Messageby phil59 » 19/07/20, 18:41

Something that looks very good.

but will it be successful, or garner huge research grants?

Well, until we try, we can't know ...

I did not quite understand at what cost we could have this ....
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Re: Hybrid solar converter: Efficiency 85%

Unread Messageby GuyGadebois » 19/07/20, 18:51

"We are delighted to have demonstrated the high performance field operation of our solar converter," said Escarra, "and we look forward to its ongoing commercial development."

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Re: Hybrid solar converter: Efficiency 85%

Unread Messageby ENERC » 19/07/20, 19:38

Sorry for the cold shower : Mrgreen:


Their techno is based on III-V cells (cf https://escarra.tulane.edu/project/hybr ... age-focus/):
Our group is principally involved with the design of a solar module that receives concentrated sunlight and uses elemental group III-V materials to generate electricity with> 45% efficiency.

(to the color I had guessed : Cheesy: )

III-Vs are only used for Martian satellites or robots because:
1 - it is very expensive. Really very expensive per m2.
2 - these are rare metals
3 - it's ultra toxic

The idea may sound good, but it actually isn't. Already you need a concentrator and therefore a strong base, motors to center the dish facing the sun, the dish must be perfectly clean, and as soon as a cloud passes well ... it produces nothing at all. it even produces less than a normal PV since the optical field is reduced by optics (it's like with a camera with its telephoto lens: there is less light when you zoom in).

On the other hand, the idea seems interesting for much lower temperatures of the kind 50 ° C to preheat the DHW or make heating. You can use standard silicon panels so the active part is around 50 € per m2.
But in fact it's not great, because sometimes at night it is cold (and yes) and therefore you need a circuit with antifreeze and all the associated mess.

Prioritizing strong returns is a bad idea, except in very special cases. Choose between:
- a standard solar panel at 0,3 € TTC per W with an efficiency of 20% that works all the time,
- a more expensive solar panel with hot water circuit, which may leak or freeze,
- a parable at prices of the level of space technology which no longer produces anything as soon as the sky is covered (more than 50% of the time even in PACA)
what do we choose?

Unless you want to produce a lot with a featherweight (satellites), the yield has no interest. There is no lack of space.
With the current panels at 100 bales each, we produce 1700 W in direct sunlight on the surface of a car (5m x 2m). It is already a lot.

it smacks of looking for funding full nose : Mrgreen:
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Re: Hybrid solar converter: Efficiency 85%

Unread Messageby GuyGadebois » 19/07/20, 19:40

This is just the start of this kind of technology. We'll see later .... at the speed that things are going, I'm confident.
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Re: Hybrid solar converter: Efficiency 85%

Unread Messageby Remundo » 19/07/20, 20:28

85% efficiency doesn't mean much.

You should know that the photovoltaic efficiency decreases with heat, it would be good to know the proportion of electrical energy that comes out of the device, and that according to the temperature of the sensor.

We fall into the complex problem of PV-thermal, and in addition we have the parabolic concentration system which does not only have advantages.

of course, the system can work, but you have to find an economic niche where its characteristics make it profitable ...

to be continued.
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Re: Hybrid solar converter: Efficiency 85%

Unread Messageby phil59 » 19/07/20, 21:14

Currently, I am looking for a small solar installation.

But the panels will be inclined at 50-55 °, to have the best possible performance in winter. (well, I think they will be in the garden, and it will be easier to put a variable incline depending on the season, but the main thing is to produce when you need it most).

Then undoubtedly separate thermal panels, but there, in view of the distance to put in the garden, it will be more interesting to put on the roof, which gives practically to the south, with a part which will be at 70-80 °, for get the most out of it when you need it most ...

But I say that, I say nothing!
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Re: Hybrid solar converter: Efficiency 85%

Unread Messageby sicetaitsimple » 19/07/20, 22:04

phil59 wrote:Currently, I am looking for a small solar installation.

But the panels will be inclined at 50-55 °, to have the best possible performance in winter. (well, I think they will be in the garden, and it will be easier to put a variable incline depending on the season, but the main thing is to produce when you need it most).

Then undoubtedly separate thermal panels, but there, in view of the distance to put in the garden, it will be more interesting to put on the roof, which gives practically to the south, with a part which will be at 70-80 °, for get the most out of it when you need it most ...

But I say that, I say nothing!


I do not have solar, so my opinion is not based on experience.
But look at the prices current PV, I'm not sure that thermal panels are still interesting if you have opted for PV anyway. It is adding plumbing, fluids, frost or overheating protection, ... to a PV system which in any case includes inverter, wiring, ... Put 500Wp or 1 kWp more, the marginal cost is low.
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Re: Hybrid solar converter: Efficiency 85%

Unread Messageby phil59 » 19/07/20, 22:50

Yes, you're right, photovoltaics are much simpler (in theory, I don't have real experience yet), and then in the garden, at breast height, maintenance is easy ...

But the other panels, I intend either to recover from them, there is a way to have them by being patient for around 1000 €, for 10-12 large panels ... or to make them ....

The bp is more the mounting on the roof. After the rest, "it's easier" ....

Photovoltaic is the most urgent, "heat", it will be in 3-4 years ....

I already have in addition to the gas boiler, a hydro wood stove, and an air-water pump .....
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Re: Hybrid solar converter: Efficiency 85%

Unread Messageby sicetaitsimple » 19/07/20, 23:00

phil59 wrote:I already have in addition to the gas boiler, a hydro wood stove, and an air-water pump .....


Ok, there we are already in the "sophisticated" : Lol: .
I imagined a "simple" production of sanitary hot water from thermal panels, in which case the "all PV" solution a little more dimensioned seemed much simpler and certainly less expensive.
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