A University of Houston researcher has developed a nanoparticle coating for solar panels that makes it easier to keep the panels clean, maintaining their efficiency for longer and reducing the maintenance and operations costs.
The patent-pending coating developed by physics professor Seamus "Shay" Curran, director of UH's Institute for NanoEnergy, has successfully undergone testing at the Dublin Institute for Technology and will undergo field trials being conducted by an engineering firm in North Carolina.
Curran said the June testing in Ireland and the field trials being done at Livingston & Haven in Charlotte, N.C., represent significant steps forward in moving the coating and a related technology to the marketplace. A demonstration of the coating was conducted Friday (Aug. 10) at Livingston & Haven.
The Self-Cleaning Nano Hydrophobic (SCNH107TM) layer has been licensed by C-Voltaics from UH. C-Voltaics, a start-up energy company dedicated to the generation of more practical clean energy for use in off-grid and on-grid applications, will oversee marketing of the coating and a "Storm Cell." a transportable energy generator with unique patent-pending designs and engineering aspects that was also developed by Curran at UH.
Solar panels need to have a clean surface to efficiently gather light from the sun, but they are often soiled by dust, pollen, water and other particles. Curran's coating acts as a barrier protection against these pollutants.
The nano-thin coating repels dust, pollen, water and other particles without hindering the solar panel's ability to absorb sunlight. The coating can maintain this ideal hydrophobic surface for years, reducing overall maintenance.
"A dirty solar panel can reduce its power capabilities by up to 30 percent," Curran said. "The coating essentially makes the panel self-cleaning."
While the coating is designed for use on solar panels, Curran believes it could also have widespread applications as an anti-corrosive coating for other materials.
UH is a shareholder in C-Voltaics, which focuses on using technology to alleviate the significant costs of solar energy service and maintenance, which are key issues in solar energy generation and storage.
"This is where you see the university transitioning a technology from the lab to the community and making an economic impact," Curran said.
Curran developed the coating in conjunction with his work on building transportable, off-grid solar-powered generator for residential and commercial use.
Curran's development of the storm cell system stems from his family's experience during Hurricane Ike in September 2008. Curran, his wife and three young sons stocked up and hunkered down as Ike approached the Texas coast. They woke up the next morning after the storm passed with the house intact, but powerless.
"My wife said to me, 'How long have you been working in solar energy? The sun is shining but we don't have any electricity. Why don't you build us a portable solar unit for the next time this happens?'"
The dutiful husband did as he was asked.
The solar-powered Storm Cell is designed to be used much in the same way as a diesel generator, except it's quiet and has no emissions. It consists of a square storage trailer with solar panels attached to retractable arms that can be manually unfurled as needed and then stored inside the trailer.
The unit built by Curran and his team produces 2-to-5 kilowatts and charges a backup battery. That's enough power for an air-conditioning system, some light and a TV. But Livingston & Haven has built an even larger unit that could fully power a 3,000-square-foot house. Curran said there also are a number of commercial uses for the generators such as oil and gas drill sites and farms.
The generator system will be engineered and sold by C-Voltaics and Livingston & Haven.
Curran has been involved in solar energy research for many years and also has been working on improving the efficiency of thin-film solar cells in terms of storing solar energy. Thin-film solar cells are lightweight, durable and easy to use. Researchers are trying to improve their efficiency in terms of storage capability so that they are competitive with silicon cells.
Curran also has created several innovations that relate to the next generation of solar devices used to produce electricity. These devices are all plastic, as opposed to the current devices that use silicon or metal alloys, which take up space and can be costly.
Laura Tolley | EurekAlert!
New biomaterial could replace plastic laminates, greatly reduce pollution
21.09.2017 | Penn State
Stopping problem ice -- by cracking it
21.09.2017 | Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
21.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.09.2017 | Life Sciences
21.09.2017 | Health and Medicine