Although solar panels might appear bright and shiny, in desert environments — where they are most frequently installed — layers of dust and other particles can quickly coat their surfaces. These coatings can affect the panels’ ability to absorb sunlight and drastically reduce the conversion of the sun’s rays into energy, making it necessary to periodically wash the panels with water. But often, in areas like Nevada, water resources are scarce. Consequently, scientists have turned their attention toward developing technologies for waterless cleaning. NASA has already been using such techniques to wash panels in the lunar and Mars missions, but their developed methodologies prove too expensive for widespread public application. A research team is aiming to develop a water-free cleaning technology that will be cost-effective for large-scale photovoltaic (PV) generation, whereby they look to nanotechnology, rather than water, to clean the panels.
Visit Website | Image credit: Biswajit Das, Director of Nevada Nanotechnology Center/Sanjana Das/University of Nevada, Las Vegas