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Dust settles, we don’t: The electrodynamic screen—A self-cleaning technology for concentrated solar power mirrors and photovoltaic panels

  • Annie Rabi Bernard (a1), Ryan Eriksen (a1), Mark N. Horenstein (a1) and Malay K. Mazumder (a1)

Abstract

The review article describes the composition, working, and benefits of the electrodynamic screen (EDS) film, a self-cleaning surface technology that can be retrofitted onto solar and thermal energy collectors. The EDS film avoids the use of water and robotic parts that are the common cleaning techniques used in solar/thermal power plants and thus emerges as a viable and scalable solution to the soiling problem faced recurrently by these plants. The article summarizes different experiments conducted to improve the efficiency of the EDS film in terms of reflectivity and performance. Field test results are also included to underscore the success of the EDS film operation.

Dust build-up or soiling on thermal and solar energy collector surfaces is a major problem and its cleaning is a major issue for solar energy conversion. Here, a self-cleaning technology is described as a scalable and viable solution to clear the surfaces. EDS film technology does not require water, manual labor, or moving parts to function, and the power needed to operate EDS is almost negligible and can be derived from the harvesting device itself. The EDS films thereby help mitigate the energy loss caused by soiling in solar and thermal harvesting systems. An EDS film with reflective or transparent electrodes can be retrofitted on concentrated solar power mirrors and on photovoltaic (PV) panels to sustain and aid their unhindered reflection and absorption of incident sunlight, respectively. We report experiments and describe methods used to increase the reflectivity of the electrodes of an EDS film. Results obtained from lab test setups and field test units that define the functionality, reflectivity, and stability of the electrodes on the EDS films are also presented. Field test results that compare and report the performance of PV panel output current over long periods of testing, with and without EDS films are also discussed. Test results from 3-month outdoor testing, which demonstrate recovery back to >95% of the pristine system, after decrease to 80–90% before EDS film activation, are also shown.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

a)Address all correspondence to Annie Rabi Bernard at annieber@bu.edu

References

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