Scientists have discovered a way to clean dust from solar panels without using water

Dust on solar panels greatly reduces their output, so they must be kept clean. But what is the best way to do this? Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) say they have a solution.


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One of the most common ways to clean dust from solar panels is to spray them with water. But this is a huge waste of water, especially in desert areas, where there are a lot of solar farms. MIT scientists observed in New studywhich was published in science progress:

With a global PV capacity of more than 500 GW, we estimate on the basis of reports that up to 10 billion gallons of water are consumed each year worldwide for solar panel cleaning, which can meet the annual water needs of up to two million people. in developing and underdeveloped countries.

Moreover, dry washing damages the solar panels.

According to researchersAnd the Static electricity can keep dust off the solar panels, which is a more sustainable solution. This is significant, because as the researchers note, for example, “dust accumulation is 5 mg/cm2 Corresponds to approximately 50% loss in power output. “

The effect of dust accumulation on the power output of solar panels. Source: Science Advances

The researchers achieved this using “induction of charge aided by absorbing moisture.” Adsorption occurs when moisture in the air adheres to the surface of dust particles. Cosmos Briefly explain How it works:

The new technology works by passing a simple electrode – a conductor of electricity, which could be a simple metal rod – just over the surface of a solar panel. The electric field generated by the electrode causes the dust particles to become electrically charged as well.

The same dust-borne charge is then applied to the surface of the solar panel through a conductive layer a few nanometers thick. The researchers calculated the range of effort required to be applied to overcome the gravitational pull and adhesion, so dust particles are pushed from the surface until they fall.

In scale and real-world practice, the authors suggest that each solar panel can be fitted with a handrail on each side, with an electrode extending across the panel. A small electric motor, possibly using even the electricity output from the panel itself, can drive a belt system to move the electrode back and forth.

This method works in environments where ambient humidity is 30% or more, and most deserts can achieve a humidity of about 30%.

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What do you think of the proposed cleaning method for solar panels? Let us know in the comments below.

Read more: These light, thin, flexible solar panels “peel and stick” to surfaces

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