Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Tracey Leger-Hornby, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Isa Bar-On, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Richard D. Sisson, Jr., Advisor




In 2009, WPI formed a Presidential Task Force to engage the WPI community in sustainability research, thought, and action. One of the Presidential Task Force's specific objectives is to improve campus environmental performance, which includes energy conservation. Several new buildings such as the Bartlett Center and East Hall have utilized new green building techniques and materials. Older buildings at WPI which were built before new green building techniques and materials were developed can be equipped with photovoltaic systems to reduce the environmental impact and increase clean energy use. This thesis presents a rooftop photovoltaic array design for the George C. Gordon library at WPI which is expected to produce over 27,000 kWh and offset over 56,000 lbs of carbon dioxide emissions annually. The materials science and engineering of the photovoltaic system components are an important part of the design process. Structural and thermal modeling of photovoltaic components during the initial phase of array design is critical to the success of the PV system and maximizing the energy from the system. This thesis presents how differences in photovoltaic materials and mounting systems result in changes in lifetime and reliability. Using common wind, ice, snow and hail loads for the Worcester, MA area ANSYSâ„¢ structural simulations show that an attached mounting system is more structurally stable than a ballasted system. Using local weather data and thermal cycling, ANSYSâ„¢ thermal simulations show that silicon PV modules outperform other technologies at lower temperatures while cadmium telluride PV modules outperform other technologies at higher temperatures. It is recommended that WPI install poly-silicon PV modules, such as Evergreen Solar PV modules, to maximize power output.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Materials Science & Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





solar, photovoltaic, structural, thermal, performance, ANSYS