Industries manufacturing solar panels claim that it operates at 80 to 90% of their efficiency for 20 to 25 years. However, it is well known that dust and sand deposits on solar panels reduce their performance. Depending on the location of the solar power plant and the climate in which it is used, solar panels have been found to lose 10 to 40% of their initial efficiency due to dust accumulation within a few months. Some of the methods currently used to clean the solar panel are expensive, inefficient, have various practical problems in continuous use and can cause irreversible damage to the solar panel. Hence, the researchers at IIT Jodhpur took motivation from this real-time problem and developed a self-cleaning coating using superhydrophobic material.
The developed superhydrophobic coating has an excellent self-cleaning property and exhibits no transmittance or power conversion efficiency loss. Accelerated laboratory-scale tests have shown that the coating has exceptional mechanical and environmental durability. This coating method is an efficient and easy process to use in existing photovoltaic power generation with simple spray and wipe techniques. Self-cleaning using superhydrophobic coatings does not require much water for cleaning purposes. Thus, it can be used in water-scarce areas with low maintenance costs.
In future, the researchers are looking at studying the durability of self-cleaning coating in real-time in different regions of the country, such as arid and semi-arid desert regions, coastal regions, and rural and urban areas. The researchers are also investigating the various re-coating options for the damage caused during the usage.
This self-cleaning coating has been developed by the principal investigator, Dr Ravi KR, Associate Professor & Head, Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, IIT Jodhpur and team members Meignanamoorthi G, Project Assistant and Mohit Singh, Research Scholar & Prime Minister’s Research Fellow (PMRF), Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, IIT Jodhpur.