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Hybridising photovoltaic and photothermal technologies into a single system that can simultaneously deliver heat and power represents one of the leading strategies for generating clean energy at more affordable prices. In a hybrid photovoltaic-thermal (PVT) system, the capability to modulate the thermal and electrical power output is significantly influenced by the spectral properties of the heat transfer fluid utilised. In this study, we report on one of the first experimental evaluations of the capability of a multimodal silver nanofluid containing various particle shapes and particle sizes to selectively modulate the solar energy for PVT applications. The diverse set of particle properties led up to a 50.4% enhancement in the solar energy absorbed by the nanofluid over the 300nm—550nm spectral region, where silicon is known to exhibit poor photovoltaic conversion performances. This improved substantially the absorption of solar energy, with an additional 18–129Wm−2 of thermal power being generated by the PVT system. Along with the advancements made in the thermal power output of the PVT system, a decrease of 4.7–36.6Wm−2 in the electrical power generated by the photovoltaic element was noted. Thus, for every∼11Wm−2 increase of thermal power achieved through the addition of the nanoparticles, a reduction of∼3Wm−2 in the ability to generate clean electricity was sustained by the PVT. Despite the energy trade-offs involved under the conditions of the nanofluid, the PVT system cumulatively harvested 405Wm−2 of solar energy, which amounts to a total conversion efficiency of 45%. Furthermore, the economics of the additional energy harvested through merging of the two systems was found to reach an enhancement of 77% under certain European conditions.



European Space Agency

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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