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New methods for solar energy

conversion: Combining heat and light

Prof. Nicholas A. Melosh
Materials Science & Engineering, Stanford University

with ZX Shen (AP/Ph/SIMES), Roger Howe (EE)

Solar Power Conversion
A lot of high-quality energy is available from the sun… how can we
harvest it?

Solar Thermal (CSP)

Photovoltaics (PV)

• Converts sunlight into heat

• collects fraction of incident energy

• Concentrated solar thermal

• “high grade” photon energy

• Uses well-known thermal
conversion systems

• direct photon to electricity

• Efficiencies of 20-30%

• efficiencies 19-24% (single junction Si)

How Efficient are fossil fuels? Coal Plants are ~33% efficient. Natural Gas Plants are > 53% efficient! How come? Combined Cycles. A GE gas turbine .

A Better Way: Combined Cycles photo-electricity out waste heat thermo-electricity out Premise: A high-temperature photovoltaic combined with a thermal engine is the most effective way to maximize output efficiency. .

.Combined HT-PV/ Thermo Cycle 5800º C PV Stage 100%*(25%) = 25% 600º C h ~ 25% 75% 75%*(25%) = 19% Thermal Process h ~ 25% 100º C total: 44% Combined cycles can take two modest performance devices to form a very high efficiency device.

.High-Temperature PV The key is to develop a PV cell that can operate at high temperatures • Ading 20% efficient High Temperature-PV (HT-PV) increases a 25% thermal system to 40% • Current ~12¢/kWh LCOE could decrease to ~7¢/kWh • Possibly add on to existing designs Can we make a High-Temperature Photovoltaic? No.

generally >1200ºC • Robust Overcome workfunction energy barrier .Thermionic Emission Boiling water: Boiling electrons from a metal: e- • Input heat energy to overcome energy barrier to change liquid into gas V Hot metal • Operates at very high temperatures. tube anode .Thermionic Devices cathode electrical supply from the University of Illinois Chemistry Learning Center.

need small cathode fc to keep temperature reasonable • Vout ~ 0.1.Thermionic Energy Converison vacuum Hot cathode Cold anode e- V • Want large cathode fc for fc large Vout • … but.2 eV • Result: poor efficiency .0.

Nature Materials. 9 . 2010 .762–767.Improving thermionic emission • How to increase the output voltage? Ec hν Ev semiconductor Schwede et al.

2010 . Nature Materials.762–767. 9 .Photon Enhanced Thermionic Emission (PETE) high-T • Photo-excite carriers into conduction band • Thermionically emit these excited carriers • Overcome electron affinity barrier (not full work-function) • Collected at low work-function anode Schwede et al.

GaAs .What would PETE look like? Parallel-Plate Design: high-T Standard materials: Si.

Nature Materials. Lazea.TC • φA = 0. 2010 .9 eV – [Koeck. χ .Theoretical Efficiency • To adjust: Eg.762–767. & Haenen 2009] • TA ≤ 300°C • Other parameters similar to Si – 1e19 Boron doped Schwede et al. 9 . Nemanich.

5 eV 3.Experimental Demonstration • GaN with Cs coating • Thermally Stable Gallium Nitride – Eg = 3.3 eV – 0.1 μm Mg doped – 5x1018 cm-3 Photos: Robert Laska Experimental Apparatus: ~0 to 0.3 eV .

Experimental Apparatus optical access removable sample mount not visible: .Cs deposition source .anode heater .

3 eV • Identical energy distributions • 0.5 eV thermal voltage boost significant • 400ºC = 0.056 eV • efficiency ~10-4 .7 eV 3.Photon-independent Emission Energy • Photon energy should not matter above band gap Energy distribution for different excitation energy • Very different from photoemission • Green = just above gap • Blue = well above gap. not above Evac Average energy: 3.8 eV 3.

Heterostructured cathode performance • Very strong temperature dependence • Yield increases 10x from 40ºC to 120ºC • PETE current dominates photoemission • Limited by thermal stability of CsO coating Improved yield from 10-4 to 2.5% .

cathode or both • Use nanostructured PETE cathode to absorb light and emit electrons .Adding PETE onto Existing Equipment PETE device Tessera 20 kW Stirling concentrator dish Stirling engine • Several companies already operate Stirling-based CSP • Record: 32% efficiency. annual efficiency ~23% to grid • Add PETE front stage. thermally connect anode.

& Morrison 2004] . Morrison & Le Lieve 2004] 285°C Anode temperature [Mills. Le Lievre.5% Thermal to electricity conversion [Mills.Theoretical Tandem Efficiency 31.

gov/analysis/sam/ A/cm2 current density • ~18 ft diameter dish • = 0.40/W https://www. PETE must be 15-20% efficient at ~$. pdf .energy.Making PETE Cost Competitive PETE efficiency Cost Estimates: • Original SunCatcher LCOE = 12¢/kWh • Add PETE onto that system • $10k for a 12” wafer (high) • 25 kW unit • ~0.40 $/W To compete with Natural pplicant/afc/volume_02+03/MASTER_Appendix%20B.

Take Home Messages • Combined Cycles may be practical means to greatly increase efficiency • PETE is a new way to combine thermal and photon energy • Modest PETE efficiency could make economic impact .