Solar panels can now be cleaned with very little water. Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur, India unveiled the groundbreaking development. They have developed the coating technology for easy self-cleaning of solar panel surfaces.
The coatings feature transparency, scalability, superhydrophobicity, and durability. What’s more: it is said to reduce the solar panels’ dust accumulation and is capable of self-cleaning with very little water. The facet is apt for easy integration with solar panel manufacturing plants. The institute has applied for a patent for the novel technology.
The groundbreaking coating developed by the principal investigator, Dr. Ravi K. R., Associate Professor & Head, Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, IIT Jodhpur, was supported by an elite team. The team members include Meignanamoorthi G, Project Assistant, and Mohit Singh, Research Scholar & Prime Minister’s Research Fellow (PMRF), Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, IIT Jodhpur.
Ravi K R stated that industries manufacturing solar panels claimed to operate at 80 to 90% of their efficiency for 20 to 25 years. He added that it was well known that dust and sand deposits on solar panels reduce their performance. Moreover, depending on the location of the solar power plant and the climate where the plant is located, solar panels have been found to lose 10 to 40% of their efficiency. The loss can be attributed to dust accumulation within a few months.
He highlighted that some of the methods currently used to clean the solar panel are expensive, inefficient, have various practical problems in continuous use, and can cause irreversible damage to the solar panel.
In this context, the developed superhydrophobic coating has an excellent self-cleaning property and exhibits no transmittance or power conversion efficiency loss. He added that accelerated laboratory-scale tests have shown that the coating has exceptional mechanical and environmental durability.
Ravi K R stated that they were studying the durability of self-cleaning coating in real-time in different regions of the country, such as arid and semi-arid desert regions, coastal regions, and rural and urban areas. He added that the team is planning to work on decreasing the reduction in efficiency due to dust accumulation in solar thermal applications.