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Notch structure for concentrating module and method of manufacture using photovoltaic strips

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Notch structure for concentrating module and method of manufacture using photovoltaic strips


The invention provides a solar concentrator structure including a first concentrating element. The first concentrating element includes a first aperture region, a first exit region, a first side and a second side. The solar concentrator structure further includes a second or more concentrating elements integrally coupled with the first concentrating element in a parallel manner. The second concentrating element includes a second aperture region, a second exit region, the third side, and a fourth side. The third side joins with the second side to form an apex notch structure characterized by a radius of curvature. Additionally, the solar concentrator structure includes a separation region by a width separating the first exit region from the second exit region and a triangular region including the apex notch structure and a base defined by the separation region and a refractive index of about 1 characterizing the triangular region.
Related Terms: Solar Concentrator

Browse recent Solaria Corporation patents - Fremont, CA, US
Inventor: Kevin R. GIBSON
USPTO Applicaton #: #20120275042 - Class: 359853 (USPTO) - 11/01/12 - Class 359 


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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120275042, Notch structure for concentrating module and method of manufacture using photovoltaic strips.

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CROSS-REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The instant PCT patent application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/969,949, filed Sep. 5, 2007, and which is incorporated by reference in its entirety herein for all purposes.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to solar energy techniques. In particular, the present invention provides a method and resulting solar concentration module fabricated from a plurality of concentrating elements respectively coupled to a plurality of photovoltaic strips. More particularly, the present method and structure are directed to a notch structure between a pair of the plurality of concentrating elements. In a specific embodiment, the notch structure is implemented to improve efficiency of the multiple concentrator structure. Merely by way of example, the invention has been applied to solar panels, commonly termed modules, but it would be recognized that the invention has a much broader range of applicability.

As the population of the world increases, industrial expansion has lead to an equally large consumption of energy. Energy often comes from fossil fuels, including coal and oil, hydroelectric plants, nuclear sources, and others. As merely an example, the International Energy Agency projects further increases in oil consumption, with developing nations such as China and India accounting for most of the increase. Almost every element of our daily lives depends, in part, on oil, which is becoming increasingly scarce. As time further progresses, an era of “cheap” and plentiful oil is coming to an end. Accordingly, other and alternative sources of energy have been developed.

Concurrent with oil, we have also relied upon other very useful sources of energy such as hydroelectric, nuclear, and the like to provide our electricity needs. As an example, most of our conventional electricity requirements for home and business use comes from turbines run on coal or other forms of fossil fuel, nuclear power generation plants, and hydroelectric plants, as well as other forms of renewable energy. Often times, home and business use of electrical power has been stable and widespread.

Most importantly, much if not all of the useful energy found on the Earth comes from our sun. Generally all common plant life on the Earth achieves life using photosynthesis processes from sun light. Fossil fuels such as oil were also developed from biological materials derived from energy associated with the sun. For human beings including “sun worshipers,” sunlight has been essential. For life on the planet Earth, the sun has been our most important energy source and fuel for modern day solar energy.

Solar energy possesses many characteristics that are very desirable! Solar energy is renewable, clean, abundant, and often widespread. Certain technologies developed often capture solar energy, concentrate it, store it, and convert it into other useful forms of energy.

Solar panels have been developed to convert sunlight into energy. As merely an example, solar thermal panels often convert electromagnetic radiation from the sun into thermal energy for heating homes, running certain industrial processes, or driving high grade turbines to generate electricity. As another example, solar photovoltaic panels convert sunlight directly into electricity for a variety of applications. Solar panels are generally composed of an array of solar cells, which are interconnected to each other. The cells are often arranged in series and/or parallel groups of cells in series. Accordingly, solar panels have great potential to benefit our nation, security, and human users. They can even diversify our energy requirements and reduce the world\'s dependence on oil and other potentially detrimental sources of energy.

Although solar panels have been used successful for certain applications, there are still certain limitations. Solar cells are often costly. Depending upon the geographic region, there are often financial subsidies from governmental entities for purchasing solar panels, which often cannot compete with the direct purchase of electricity from public power companies. Additionally, the panels are often composed of silicon bearing wafer materials. Such wafer materials are often costly and difficult to manufacture efficiently on a large scale. Availability of solar panels is also somewhat scarce. That is, solar panels are often difficult to find and purchase from limited sources of photovoltaic silicon bearing materials. These and other limitations are described throughout the present specification, and may be described in more detail below.

From the above, it is seen that techniques for improving solar devices is highly desirable.

BRIEF

SUMMARY

OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to solar energy techniques. In particular, the present invention provides a method and resulting device fabricated from a plurality of concentrating elements respectively coupled to a plurality of photovoltaic regions. More particularly, the present method and structure are directed to a notch structure provided between a pair of concentrating elements. In a specific embodiment, the notch structure is implemented to improve efficiency of the multiple concentrator structure. Merely by way of example, the invention has been applied to solar panels, commonly termed modules, but it would be recognized that the invention has a much broader range of applicability.

In a specific embodiment, the invention provides a solar concentrator structure. The solar concentrator structure includes a first concentrating element. The first concentrating element includes a first aperture region, a first exit region, a first side and a second side. The solar concentrator structure further includes a second or more concentrating elements integrally coupled with the first concentrating element in a parallel manner. The second concentrating element includes a second aperture region, a second exit region, the third side, and a fourth side. The third side joins with the second side to form an apex notch structure. Additionally, the solar concentrator structure includes a separation region provided between the first concentrating element and the second concentrating element. The separation region is characterized by a width separating the first exit region from the second exit region. Moreover, the solar concentrator structure includes a radius of curvature of 0.1 mm and less characterizing the apex notch structure. The solar concentrator structure further includes a triangular region including the apex notch structure and a base defined by the separation region and a refractive index of about 1 characterizing the triangular region.

In another specific embodiment, the invention provides a solar module with light concentrator structure for photovoltaic strips. The solar module includes a front cover member including a webbing with a flat front plane, a back plane, a first thickness provided between the front plane and the back plane, a plurality of concentrating elements integrally formed in a parallel manner extending from a first edge to a second edge at the back plane, and a peripheral region free of any concentrating element. Each of the plurality of concentrating elements includes an aperture region, an exit region, a second thickness provided between the aperture region and the exit region, and two sides connecting the aperture region and the exit region. The exit region includes a bottom surface and two corner structures. Additionally, the solar module includes a plurality of triangular notches separating each of the plurality of concentrating elements from its neighbor one. Each of the plurality of triangular notches includes an apex region. The solar module further includes a first radius of curvature of 0.1 mm and less characterizing the apex region, a second radius of curvature of 0.2 mm or less characterizing the two corner structures, and a first refractive index of about 1.45 or higher characterizing the webbing with the plurality of concentrating elements. Moreover, the solar module includes an optical coupling material applied overlying all exit regions of the plurality of concentrating elements and a plurality of photovoltaic strips bonded to all exit regions via the optical coupling material. The solar module further includes a plurality of triangular shaped region including the corresponding plurality of triangular notches and a second refractive index of about 1 characterizing the plurality of triangular regions. Furthermore, the solar module includes a back cover member including an electric circuit board and a edge wall. The edge wall is configured to clamp with the front cover member at the peripheral region. The electric circuit board includes an input/output circuit block configured to couple with the plurality of photovoltaic strips.

In yet still an alternative embodiment, the present invention provides a method for manufacturing a light concentrator for solar module. The method includes providing a molten ribbon glass and forming a concentrator structure by molding the molten ribbon glass. The concentrator structure includes a first concentrating element. The first concentrating element includes a first aperture region, a first exit region, a first side and a second side. The concentrator structure further includes a second or more concentrating elements integrally coupled with the first concentrating element in a parallel manner. The second concentrating element includes a second aperture region, a second exit region, the third side, and a fourth side. The third side joins with the second side to form an apex notch structure. The concentrator structure additionally includes a separation region provided between the first concentrating element and the second concentrating element. The separation region is characterized by a width separating the first exit region from the second exit region. The concentrator structure further includes a radius of curvature of a first value characterizing the apex notch structure, a triangular region including the apex notch structure and a base defined by the separation region, and a refractive index of about 1 characterizing the triangular region. Furthermore the method includes polishing all sides to a 30 nm RMS or less and reducing the radius of curvature from the first value to 0.1 mm or less.

Many benefits are achieved by way of the present invention over conventional techniques. For example, the present technique an improved light concentrator that can be made of glass or plastic material and implemented as a top cover member as a single piece of webbing integrally including a plurality of concentrating elements for coupling with a plurality of photovoltaic strips. In a preferred embodiment, the invention provides a glass concentrator having a characteristic from the thickness of the glass webbing to sustain a load of at least 2400 Pa uniformly applied on the webbing surface for 1 hour in two cycles. Also in a preferred embodiment, the invention provides a glass concentrator having a geometric concentration characteristic with an aperture to exit ratio in a range from about 1.8 to about 4.5 and polished side regions with RMS roughness less than 30 nm. Particularly, between each neighboring concentrating elements there exists an apex notch structure characterized by a radius of curvature. In a preferred embodiment, the invention provides a notch structure with a minimized radius of curvature to limit the module efficiency loss due to the notch structure less than 5%. In one embodiment, the invention provides a method for manufacture the concentrator structure with integrally formed concentrating elements and minimized notch radius of curvature. Depending upon the embodiment, one or more of these benefits may be achieved. These and other benefits will be described in more detail throughout the present specification and more particularly below.

Various additional objects, features and advantages of the present invention can be more fully appreciated with reference to the detailed description and accompanying drawings that follow.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a simplified diagram of a solar module according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2A is a simplified diagram of a concentrator structure including a plurality of concentrating elements according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2B is a detailed diagram of the concentrator structure shown in FIG. 2A;

FIG. 3 is a more detailed diagram illustrating two neighboring concentrating elements and the notch structure formed by two joining sides of the concentrating elements according to an embodiment of the present invention;



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20120275042 A1
Publish Date
11/01/2012
Document #
13546979
File Date
07/11/2012
USPTO Class
359853
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
02B5/10
Drawings
6


Solar Concentrator


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