Researchers from the Brem-Gurion University of the Negev have developed a new strategy that will optimize solar panels cleansing and dust removal. The idea came up after analyzing how a lotus leaf repels water and dust remaining on the surface; this is how scientists found inspiration and decided to mimic this procedure into solar panels surfaces.
The mechanism consists of adding a new light on microscope forces involved in solar panels cleaning procedures, in order to improve dust removal from their surfaces. The new technique achieved 98 percent of dust removal. These optimal results will enhance panels’ efficiency in energy harvesting and light absorption.
Main reason why it is highly important to maintain the surface of solar panels clear of dust or any other particles is because dust adhesion interrupts light absorption and consequently affects energy harvesting, giving panels a hard time, especially when they are placed in areas that are heavily exposed to dusty environments, such as desert zones like the Negev in Israel.
Scientists based their creation on natural self-cleaning properties such as the lotus leaf, thanks to its nanotextured surface, thin face and hydrophobic coating who repeals water, automatically creating the dust-removal mechanism.
One of the researchers involved was Tabea Heckenthaler, a student from Düsseldorf Germany at the BGU Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research, Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research; who says: “In the desert, dust accumulates on the surface of solar cells and it’s labor-intensive to clean them constantly, so we’re trying to mimic this behavior on a solar cell.”
The procedure consisted of modifying a semiconductor present in photovoltaic cells called silicon substrate (Si) in order to mimic the response of the lotus leaf’s surface to the water, which basically repels it taking all polluted particles away.
The method is still in the process of creation but scientists are excited about improving solar energy production in places that are very exposed to dust, without affecting the panel’s owner. This experiment might represent the expansion of solar energy into unimaginable areas.
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