A cooler for dense-array CPV receivers based on metal foam


Photovoltaic cells in concentrator photovoltaic systems are sensitive to overload their heat cooling systems due to exposure to a high incident radiation flux. This has unwanted repercussions which translate to a decline in both conversion efficiency and lifespan of the solar cell. The situation worsens when closely packed solar cell systems are used. Such systems demand active cooling with forced flow of the coolant so as to maintain the device within the acceptable operating temperatures for desired reliability.  Cooling heat exchanger systems such as fins in channels, micro-channels, pin fins and tortuous flow paths have been previously studied for possible application in concentrator photovoltaic systems but have been deemed insufficient. Consequently, researchers have sought other means of achieving the same goal. To this note, another extended-surface solution cooling mechanisms such as, the adoption of a cooling plate containing a metal foam have been suggested. This technique has been observed to be excellent but increased compression of the foam has been noted to amplify the pressure loss in flow through the foam, therefore creating a parasitic-type power demand for coolant pumping purposes. To this effect, there is need to lower this intensified power demand for water pumping purposes for a concentrator photovoltaic system.

Recently, Dr Yuri Flitsanov and Professor Abraham Kribus from the School of Mechanical Engineering at Tel Aviv University in Israel developed a cooler for dense-array concentrator photovoltaic receivers based on metal foam. For this purpose, the scholarly pair hoped to advance an empirical setup for forced flow heat transfer in a cooling plate heat exchanger filled with unmodified metal foam. Their work is published in the research journal, Solar Energy.

The research team began by evaluating of open-cell metal foams as heat transfer enhancers in a cold plate suitable for concentrating photovoltaic receivers. Next, they tested aluminum based foams in a compact heat exchanger with forced convection of water over a range of flow rates and heating rates. Eventually, they characterized the heat transfer rate and pressure drop as a function of water flow rate through the heat exchanger.

The authors observed that the performance of the foam based heat exchanger was positively competitive when compared to commercial cooling plate solutions. Furthermore, it was noted that performance improvement could be achieved without foam compression and that the desired performance goals could be accomplished with different combinations of materials, dimensions and coolant flow rates.

Yuri Flitsanov and Professor Abraham Kribus successfully presented an experimental study of forced flow heat transfer in a cooling plate heat exchanger filled with unmodified metal foam. It has been seen that the combination of heat transfer and pressure drop performance with the metal foam solution yields a more efficient system when compared to commercial coolers. Furthermore, the metal foam based cooler is a promising solution for dense array concentrator photovoltaic receiver, with competitive performance and potential for low cost fabrication. Altogether, the impact of the metal foam cooler from a case study shows that using the metal foam cooler can increase the electricity production by about 1.5%.

A cooler for dense-array CPV receivers based on metal foam. Advances in Engineering

About the author

Dr. Yuri Flitsanov

School of Mechanical Engineering, Tel-Aviv University
[email protected]

Dr. Yuri Flitsanov is working on water cooling systems for photovoltaic cells,  solar energy, solar cells, solar dish concentrators, nondestructive and destructive testing of materials, mechanical thermal properties of thin films and coatings, ultrasonic and instron testing of materials. He authored over 75 journal and conference publications and patents.

Dr. Flitsanov received a M.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering (Diploma with honors) from Tashkent University of Engineers for Industry and Agriculture (1981), and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Institute of Mechanics and Energy named after V.P. Goryachkin (1986), Moscow, USSR. He worked at the University of Engineers for Industry and Agriculture. Tashkent, USSR. (1986-91), ARO, The Volcani Center, Institute of Agricultural Engineering. Bet-Dagan, Israel. (1993-98), Technion – Israel Institute of Technology  (1998-2001),  and Tel-Aviv University (2002 to present) .

About the author

Prof. Abraham Kribus
School of Mechanical Engineering, Tel-Aviv University
[email protected]

Prof. Kribus is working on thermal, photovoltaic and thermionic conversion of solar energy, thermodynamic and thermo-chemical cycles, and energy storage. He authored over 260 journal and conference publications and 8 patents.

Prof. Kribus received a B.Sc. Summa Cum Laude in Mechanical Engineering from Tel Aviv University (1980), and a Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Cornell University (1991). He worked at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel (1991-2001), and at Tel Aviv University (2001 to present). He has consulted for many solar energy companies in Israel and abroad, co-founded a solar energy startup in Israel, and served as Chief Technologist at eSolar (USA).

He served as head of the Department of Fluid Mechanics and head of the M.Sc. program in Environmental Studies and received multiple awards for excellence in teaching. He also served as Associate Editor of leading solar energy journals, and as Chairperson of the Israel Section of the International Solar Energy Society (ISES).


Yuri Flitsanov, Abraham Kribus. A cooler for dense-array CPV receivers based on metal foam. Solar Energy, volume 160 (2018) pages 25–31.


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