Laminar Free Convection from a Vertically-Oriented Concentrated Photovoltaic Cell with Uniform Surface Heat Flux


This research project uses field measurements to investigate the cooling of a triple-junction, photovoltaic cell under natural convection when subjected to various amounts of insolation. The team built an experimental apparatus consisting of a mirror and Fresnel lens to concentrate light onto a triple-junction photovoltaic cell, mounted vertically on a copper heat sink. Measurements were taken year-round to provide a wide range of ambient conditions. A surface was then generated, in MATLAB, using Sparrow’s model for natural convection on a vertical plate under constant heat flux. This surface can be used to find the expected operating temperature of a cell at any location, given the ambient temperature and insolation. This research is an important contribution to the industry because it utilizes field data that represents how a cell would react under normal operation. It also extends the use of a well-known model from a one-sun environment to a multi-sun one.