Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, Vol.145, 333-341, 2016
Performance evaluation of a natural convective-cooled concentration solar thermoelectric generator coupled with a spectrally selective high temperature absorber coating
Solar energy can be directly harnessed for power generation by using solar thermoelectric generator (STEG) technology, which comprises of solar absorbers integrated with thermoelectric materials. STEGs behave as solid state heat engines, which can utilize the heat energy of the sun to produce a temperature gradient across a thermoelectric device, which is in turn converted to electrical energy. In this paper, we focus on investigating the performance of the solar absorber subsystem that employs a high temperature spectrally selective coating on a stainless steel substrate. We have performed temperature measurements on the absorber coating exposed to solar irradiation flux at different optical concentration ratios (10-100) and validated the experimental data using a numerical heat transfer model in COMSOL Multiphysics. This has been combined with the high temperature emittance measurements of the coating to develop a predictive efficiency model for the STEG system as a function of the thermoelectric figure of merit at a hot side temperature range of 100-500 degrees C. Further, we have experimentally examined the performance of a natural convective cooled STEG consisting of a series combination of three commercial Bi2Te3 thermoelectric modules coupled to the selective absorber coating. The maximum power generated from the STEG has been measured at different concentration ratios and the peak efficiency of the system has been calculated in the feasible temperature range of the thermoelectric module. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.