Novel thin-film photovoltaic vacuum glazing

Aguilar-Santana, Jorge Luis (2022) Novel thin-film photovoltaic vacuum glazing. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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As global energy consumption tends to increase rapidly and buildings are responsible for up to 40% of the energy consumption in the UK, there is a need to provide novel and practical ways to integrate efficient and energy-generating solutions for the built environment. Windows are important due to its utilisation for ventilation, natural solar heating and illumination as well as for their visual and aesthetic purposes; due to this nature, they are also the weakest point for providing insulation to buildings.

This research aims to design, construct and test experimentally a novel multipane vacuum window that integrates aerogel pillars to reduce the heat transfer by thermal transmittance while serving as a supporting structure. The vacuum in this window is encapsulated by a unique low-temperature soldering method, utilising indium-based solder in a vacuum chamber method. Besides their insulating capabilities, this window contemplates generating electric power by the use of an amorphous microcrystalline solar cell, integrated parallel to a low-e coating solution.

The contribution to knowledge documented with this research includes the development of a 119°C edge sealing method, achieved at pressures below 0.001 Pa, with the formation of “pressure halos” around the aerogel pillars. Several vacuum windows were manufactured with this method, testing their thermal transmittance by the use of international standards for calculation using the heat flux meter and calibrated hot-box method; these reported U-values at the centre of the pane as low as 1.12W/m2·K and 0.88W/m2·K for the vacuum window.

A numerical model found the use of this photovoltaic vacuum glazing as the best option for extreme temperature mitigation in conditions with high solar irradiation (i.e. arid desert and tropical locations), where this solution can reduce the heat transfer by 23.42%. The silicon cell incorporated can reach efficiencies of up to 22.6%, providing power at 14W/m2. Ultimately, the cost of this technology is estimated as £400/m2 with 4.37kgCO2 as the impact of manufacture; a financial payback period of nine years is calculated, which is excellent for retrofitting purposes for the current UK market.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Saffa, Riffat
Guohui, Gan
Keywords: Vacuum glazing, Aerogel, Photovoltaic, Thin-film
Subjects: T Technology > TD Environmental technology. Sanitary engineering
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Engineering
UK Campuses > Faculty of Engineering > Built Environment
Item ID: 68386
Depositing User: Aguilar Santana, Jorge
Date Deposited: 01 Aug 2022 04:40
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2022 04:40

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