Energy – Self-cleaning solar panel
A low-cost superhydrophobic coating developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory could be like a ray of sunshine for solar power reflectors, increasing efficiency and decreasing operating costs. The coating protects against the accumulation of dust and sand, which are efficiency drags for solar power plants and can reduce reflectivity up to 50 percent in just 14 days. The ORNL coating repels water and most viscous liquids and solid particulates, significantly reducing the amount of solar radiation-blocking contaminants on the mirror or photovoltaic surfaces. The minimal amount of dust and other particles that settle on the surfaces are naturally cleaned by wind and rain or can be lightly washed with brackish water, eliminating the need to clean panels with deionized water and detergents. Unlike other superhydrophobic approaches that employ high-cost vacuum deposition and chemical etching to achieve the desired surface, ORNL’s coatings are deposited by conventional painting and spraying methods.
February 04, 2014