It is now widely held as common knowledge that solar panels are crucial technologies in the generation of solar energy. However, dust and dirt can possibly reduce the efficiency of solar panels by 80%, which has gotten the recent attention of scientists. Given this situation, a team of scientists has developed self-cleaning solar panels. This technology is already being used by NASA for trips to the moon and Mars, where solar energy is extremely important
and the environment is full of dust.
The development of this technology is a result of the fact that to clean solar panel of dust is a fairly difficult thing to do because of the highly fragile photocells and the overall large area of the panels. So, it is nearly impossible to imagine how much time and effort one might spare for the cleaning of large banks of solar panels. In order to solve this problem, scientists from American Chemistry Association offered to use technologies that had been originally designed for space flights (by NASA particularly).
The innovative self-cleaning technology is based on putting thin transparent film with electro-sensitive properties on the glass or plastic covers of solar panels. If the dust concentration reaches a critical level, sensing elements enable the film, which pushes away dust with the help of an electrical discharge. Such an action leads to the formation of a dust wave, which is then transferred to the edges of the solar panel and eventually, is thrown on the ground. The results are amazing: 90% of dust is cleaned in 2 minutes. On the contrary, 4 square cm of dust on the 1 square meter of panel reduces energy generation on 40%!
Besides improvements in energy production, this peculiar technology also provides societies and cities the opportunity to begin construction of solar panels in desert areas, where the generation of solar energy might be obviously higher, but the concentration of dust could be a serious obstacle. The other benefit of the self-cleaning attribute is that it can significantly improve the distribution of solar collectors — large mirrors that warm a heat carrier, which, in turn, spins a turbine. In particular, to date they are much cheaper than solar panels; with implementation of self-cleaning technology, the expenses will be nullified with the help of one or two on-duty operators.
The solar power stations with such panels can work up to 30 years without any additional investment. This property makes them more attractive for developing countries with favorable climate conditions for solar energy generation and in addition, these panels might further replace old energy resources, more commonly used nowadays.
Massive production of solar photovoltaic battery with a self-cleaning function started in 2011, and continues today.
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