Dr. Jeffrey Brownson is Associate Professor of Energy & Mineral Engr., and Materials Science & Engr. at Penn State. Students may explore materials complimentary to the course at Design of Solar Energy Conversion Systems.
The generation of electronic charges (e.g. electrons) by absorbed photons, followed by separation of those charges to their respective electrical (ohmic) contacts. Fundamental to the design of a photovoltaic device is the application of electric current to do work.
Brownson Team Graduates
Follow the links to download electronic theses!
Ms. Elizabeth Michael (MS MatSE; Spring 2012): Nanocomposite Synthesis and Characterization of Kesterite Cu2ZnSnS4 (CZTS) for Photovoltaic Applications
Mr. Jeffrey Rayl (MS EME; Spring 2012): Climate-regime cospectrum analysis: shortwave solar irradiance with other meteorological parameters for regionally spaced locales
Dr. Ramprasad Chandrasekharan (PhD EME; Spring 2012): Numerical Modeling of Tin-based Absorber Devices for Cost-effective Solar Photovoltaics
Ms. Katherine Nicol (BS Honors Energy Engr.; Spring 2012): Deposition and Patterning of CZTS as a Light Absorbing Material for Solar Applications
Ms. Mesude Bayrakci (MS EME; Summer 2011): Temperature Dependent Power Modeling of Photovoltaics
Mr. Charith Tammineedi (MS EME; Spring 2011): Matlab Modeling of Battery-Ultracapacitor Systems for Solar and Wind
Mr. Luke Witmer (MS EME; Fall 2010): TRNSYS: Quantification of the Passive Cooling of Photovoltaics Using a Green Roof
Mr. Jonathan Perez-Blanco (BS Honors ME; Spring 2010): Conventional and Green Roof Albedo Measurement and Analysis for Roof-Mounted Photovoltaic Applications
Natural Fusion Solar Decathlon
The Natural Fusion project at Penn State has seen a very successful experience on the National Mall in in Washington D.C. this October 2009! Congratulations to the team for taking 3rd place in both Engineering and Lighting Design! What an amazing design-build process for all of us.
Contact Information if you would like to contact our group for outreach, consulting, or otherwise.
Photovoltaic (PV) Materials and
System Integrative PV (SIPV):
Our research addresses basic research in photovoltaic thin film materials, systems scale solar energy conversion, and analyses of meteorological and economic constraints to solar deployment.
Progress in Solar Research:
The solar industry has emerged from +20 year gap in the lineage of training solar energy scientists and solar engineers in the USA, from 1985-2005. Our team is recharging a field that has atrophied. Particularly in the USA, core knowledge of the solar research field has devolved into crude estimations that stunt our ability to design and deploy important changes across the nation. The absence of outreach in solar energy awareness and scientific literacy has permitted a social malaise for solar deployment. Despite the fact that Pennsylvania has the solar resource of Spain, and that the solar stronghold of Germany is further north than Maine (with worse quality of clear skies), occupants of the mid-atlantic region tend to claim their local solar resource is not useful for providing modern conveniences. Our team spans the void of training, developing useful information with core information-transfer and accessible texts for the new generation of researchers, planners, and designers.
Project Sage-ly Solar:
I am currently collaborating with Prof. Joseph Ranalli at Penn State-Hazelton to develop online math tools for solar energy calculations. Our work is being presented at the National Solar Conference in Baltimore, MD this April, 2013.
The Brownson Team's research achieves a unique vertical integration of expertise within the field of solar energy conversion by supporting a multidisciplinary environment for:
- Materials Research,
- Integrative System Design,
- Grid-tied Energy Simulations.
Current materials research is focused on synthesis and characterization of tin monosulfide (SnS) and CZTS (Kesterite Cu2ZnSnS4); both promising light absorbing materials for thin-film solar cells due to favorable light absorption properties, stable nature and the inexpensive availability of the raw materials tin and sulfur. Our new studies are expanding this year to include life cycle assessment research in the developing industry technology of cadmium telluride (CdTe) as well.
Integrative System Simulation
Our system-scale research is pursuing the efficiency improvements for PV with systems integrated photovoltaics (SiPV). Rather than replacing one element in a home with PV and sacrificing performance in both components, we focus our integration of PV into a wall or roof system, we arrive at interesting synergies that maximize performance of all the system components. Our active research into Green Roof integrated PV (GRiPV) is a complement with the Natural Fusion project at Penn State.
Simulations for Network Deployment
We are also exploring innovative integration of PV systems for grid-tied (net-metered) homes and developments. PV system configurations were simulated using TRNSYS program, importing State College weather/radiation data to calculate power output (gains) given a variety of unconventional orientations. Given a system with no centralized storage capacity, we find that panels can be mounted with specific orientations to integrate intervals of energy gains from the PV system with periods of high demand for electricity in a building. Furthermore, we have analyzed the new systems for a time-of-use purchasing scenario, matching orientations and electrical gains with periods in the day when it is economically beneficial to sell to the grid.
Candidate students (new undergrads, high school students and parents included) should feel free to contact me by email or phone with questions, or to discuss the exciting and diverse undergraduate opportunities within EME.