Passive Cooling of Photovoltaics with Desiccants

Lin Simpson, Jason Woods, Timothy Silverman, Nicolas Valderrama, Alex Hill, Nina Vincent

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

2 Scopus Citations


As part of efforts to reduce photovoltaic (PV) costs and improve reliability/durability, temperature control needs to be closely examined in a number of ways including novel passive cooling technology. Modest PV module operating temperature reductions can increase PV power output by 10% or more. The higher the operating temperature of a typical PV device, the lower the overall PV conversion efficiency. Because some incident light is converted to heat in PV cells, the PV module heats up (typically 25 degrees C above ambient temperature in full sun), and the overall energy output of the PV system is reduced (typically a 10% power loss for every 20 degrees C to 30 degrees C increase in temperature). We are integrating material on the PV module that adsorbs water from the air at night when the PV module temperature is cool and the relative humidity in the air is typically high. This sorbed water evaporates as the PV module heats up during the day, taking the excess heat with it and thus effectively cooling the PV module (see Fig. 1). Initial experiments with this novel passive cooling have demonstrated that PV module operating temperatures may be reduced nearly 30 degrees C with evaporative cooling. In this paper, we describe 1) novel materials development, 2) initial modeling that predicts how the cooling will work in different environments, and 3) results demonstrating the PV operating temperature reductions achieved to date.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages5
StatePublished - 2018
Event2017 IEEE 44th Photovoltaic Specialist Conference (PVSC) - Washington, D.C.
Duration: 25 Jun 201730 Jun 2017


Conference2017 IEEE 44th Photovoltaic Specialist Conference (PVSC)
CityWashington, D.C.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5K00-68915


  • electronic packaging thermal management
  • electronics cooling
  • photovoltaic cells


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