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Concentrated Heat --> Efficiencies in Energy Production, How?

  1. Oct 24, 2014 #1
    In what scenarios might concentrated heat (high heat or energy per unit area or per unit volume) increase efficiency in energy production? Maybe it allows for useful sustainable superconduction conditions, or just for the operation of a high-fidelity photovoltaic collector that costs a lot to manufacture per square meter?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 29, 2014 #2
    Thanks for the post! Sorry you aren't generating responses at the moment. Do you have any further information, come to any new conclusions or is it possible to reword the post?
     
  4. Oct 30, 2014 #3

    russ_watters

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    Staff: Mentor

    Sorry to be blunt, but the reason I didn't respond is that the question is both vague and looks suspiciously like gibberish/technobabble. Looks like there are extra technical sounding words tossed in for no reason. Perhaps if you rephrase it would help....?
     
  5. Oct 30, 2014 #4
    No problem, thanks for mentioning it--

    We design solar panels to operate most efficiently under the conditions they usually encounter, which is to say, normal conditions on earth's surface, which don't include heavily concentrated radiation. But say you're using large mirrors to concentrate a lot of radiation into a small area, where you'll then try to harvest it via a solar panel. Might this open doors in terms of design and materials? And if a project like that is on the table, mightn't it push some of our materials research in a different direction, focusing on materials that are efficient under conditions of higher energy density than those typically encountered by today's solar arrays?
     
  6. Oct 30, 2014 #5

    russ_watters

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    Staff: Mentor

    The most obvious impact of concentrating solar power is you'll heat up the panel, which will cause it to be less efficient. So extra cooling would be a good idea. Sure, research could be done into different operating ranges, but I have been under the impression that heat is a fundamental problem for solar power efficiency. But it is possible that positive trade-offs can be made.
     
  7. Nov 8, 2014 #6
    Isn't it true, though, that the fact that heating causing efficiency losses is an artifact of design? That is, we're currently designing solar panels to be most efficient at normal temperatures. What if we designed them to be most efficient at higher temperatures?
     
  8. Nov 8, 2014 #7

    Doug Huffman

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    Gold Member

    The solar constant irradiation is per unit area, so increasing the area of the collector has no beneficial effect on efficiency. PV are semiconductors which operating at higher temperatures will reduce the band gap.
     
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