Nanotechnology for Water-Less Cleaning of Solar Panels

Tuesday, 30 May 2017
Grand Ballroom (Hilton New Orleans Riverside)
S. Das, S. Silic, and B. Das (University of Nevada, Las Vegas)
Clean energy technologies are the present focus for fulfilling the rising demand for energy across the globe. Whereas vast majorities of researchers are working on increasing the efficiency, far less investment and research have been done in addressing the externalities that can be a setback for the technology deployment.

One of the very important externalities among them is dust and airborne sedimentation on the solar panels over time. In order to clean the dust off the solar panels, most Photo Voltaic (PV) installations perform periodic water cleaning. However, as locations with higher annual solar flux are usually arid, there is a strong demand for water-less cleaning of solar panels. While some water-less cleaning technologies currently exist, primarily based on NASA’s lunar and mars expeditions, most of these techniques are expensive and not cost effective for large-scale PV power generation.

We are currently using nanotechnology to develop a process for the water-free cleaning of solar panels, which we believe will be cost-effective for large scale PV generation. The technology involves the use of arrays of transparent nanoparticles deposited on the solar panels using a low cost technique. The nanostructure arrays provide focused electric field to modify the electrical properties of the dust particles; the charged dust particles are then removed by electrostatic sweeping.

† This work is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. IIA-1301726