Evaluation of Convective Array Cooling for a Solar Powered Aircraft 2004-01-3184
A general characteristic of photovoltaics is that they increase in efficiency as their operating temperature decreases. Based on this principal, the ability to increase a solar aircraft’s performance by cooling the solar cells was examined. The solar cells were cooled by channeling some air underneath the cells and providing a convective cooling path to the back side of the array. A full energy balance and flow analysis of the air within the cooling passage was performed. The analysis was first performed on a preliminary level to estimate the benefits of the cooling passage. This analysis established a clear benefit to the cooling passage. Based on these results a more detailed analysis was performed. From this cell temperatures were calculated and array output power throughout a day period were determined with and without the cooling passage. The results showed that if the flow through the cooling passage remained laminar then the benefit in increased output power more the offset the drag induced by the cooling passage.