HYDERABAD: In a shot in the arm for India’s National Solar Mission, Hyderabad-based international Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI) has developed solar panels that are capable of cleaning themselves. The ARCI has used nanotechnology to make self-cleaning solar panels.
The solar panels are coated with a special material that is highly water-proof or superhydrophobic. The nanoparticles used to manufacture solar panels will ensure that dust does not settle on them through an action of water. The potentiality of solar panels is affected if they are covered by dust particles.
Usually, dirty solar panels are cleaned using detergents and it is a time-consuming process. The new type of solar panels eliminates the need for manual cleaning. According to ARCI scientists, the solar panels are on in field trial stage.
Dr S Sakthivel of the Centre for Solar Energy Materials of ARCI told TOI that solar panels should be cleaned every week or few weeks to maintain high efficiency which is especially hard to do for large solar-panel arrays. The surface of solar panels with super-hydrophobic coating stays clean. It works like the lotus leaf. When water droplets fall during rainy season, they fall off the lotus leaf. Similarly, sprinkling of water on panels roll off the surface, washing off contaminants and dust.
Scientists said self-cleaning panels would have many advantages like no loss in transmittance, room temperature or sunlight curable and high weather and thermal stabilities highly suitable for Indian environmental conditions. They said one of the significant issues related to sonar panels in India is the dust problem.
“Sonar panels are needed for streetlighting, traffic signals, operating small home appliances and power production. Traditionally, the panels are mounted outdoors on rooftops or in wide open spaces to maximise their exposure to sunlight,” Sakthivel said.
Unfortunately, this type of outdoor placement leads to continuous exposure of the solar panels to weather and moisture. Around 20 per cent range of panels is reduced by dust, dirt, pollen and other particulates that accumulate on the panels. Power capabilities of an uncleaned solar panel in high dust area can drop by 30-40 per cent, Sakthivel added.
Sourced :- U Sudhakar Reddy , The Times Of India, 30th July 2018