PV/T Liquid Collector
The basic water-cooled design uses conductive-metal piping or plates attached to the back of a PV module. Connecting such chillers module by module however is costly and requires maintenance over time. The only system that avoids module by module chillers alltogether reducing cost and maintenance is the patented Thermo Rack system of water bearing support structures, renderings of which are available on Youtube.
In a standard chiller based system, a working fluid, typically water, glycol or mineral oil is then piped through these pipes or plate chillers. The heat from the PV cells are conducted through the metal and absorbed by the working fluid (presuming that the working fluid is cooler than the operating temperature of the cells). In closed-loop systems this heat is either exhausted (to cool it), or transferred at a heat exchanger, where it flows to its application. In open-loop systems, this heat is used, or exhausted before the fluid returns to the PV cells.
In a Thermo Rack system, the racking itself acts both as a module support structure and contemporarily as a 7 to 21 meter long aluminum water cooler. The modules are bolted to the water cooled rack as one would fix regular solar modules, without requiring any hydraulic junctions. Because the modules used, are completely flat, and have no junction box on the back side, 100% cooling of all solar cells is achieved. The overall reduction in specialized labour and complexity enormously impact the bottom line while allowing for outstanding reliability and higher cooling performance. The electricity and heat generated can thus be used to desalinate sea water in a cheap and low manitenance way.
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