Solar thermoelectric generators (STEGs), which are used for various applications, (particularly small size electronic devices), have optical concentration systems for high energy conversion efficiency. In this study, a refraction-assisted STEG (R-STEG) is designed based on phase-change materials. As the phase-change material (PCM) changes phase from solid to liquid, its refractive index and transmittance also change, resulting in changes in the refraction of the sunlight transmitted through it, and concentration of solar energy in the phase-change lens. This innovative design facilitates double focusing the solar energy through the optical lens and a phase-change lens. This mechanism resulted in the peak energy conversion efficiencies of the R-STEG being 60% and 86% higher than those of the typical STEG at solar intensities of 1 kW m-2 and 1.5 kW m-2, respectively. In addition, the energy stored in PCM can help to generate steady electrical energy when the solar energy was removed. This work presents significant progress regarding the optical characteristic of PCM and optical concentration systems of STEGs.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by the Pioneer Research Center Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning (2010-0019313).
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