Will solar panels in the future be self-cleaning?

German researchers have developed a coating that could provide solar panels with completely autonomous cleaning assistance. The solar panels' effectiveness can be impacted by dirt, which would assist remove it.

The German Fraunhofer FEP institute has created a method for making solar panels and glass facades self-cleaning. The basis for this innovative technology is the capacity of materials to either attract or repel water. In this instance, the researchers coated a very thin piece of glass with crystalline titanium oxide.

Due to the characteristics of titanium dioxide, whether it is exposed to sunlight or not affects whether it attracts or repels water. Because of this, it draws water during the day, keeping the entire surface damp and preventing dirt from settling. It repels water at night, causing drops to form that roll off and pick up foreign objects like dirt.

In actuality, this means that very little dirt can accumulate over time on this type of coating. The project's developers claim that this treatment also completely gets rid of all microorganisms from these surfaces.

The researchers have created a first roll of glass that is 20 metres long, 30 centimetres wide, and 100 micrometres thick. Since the end goal is to be capable of applying this composite material to solar panels, especially those with curved surfaces, the problem now is to make it strong enough to endure the test of time while also proving cost-effective.

Even though it is still in the experimental stage, this kind of innovation may help to advance the adoption of solar panels as interest in photovoltaics rises.

Will solar panels in the future be self-cleaning?

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