Self-Cleaning Solar Panels Test Chamber

Team Self-Cleaning Solar Panels Test Chamber

The winners of one of the Design Excellence Awards, Kshitiz Kohli (pictured from left to right), Syed Naufal Bin Veqar, Sarah Griesse-Nascimento, Alex Chan, and Christopher Petrik, stand by their Self-Cleaning Solar Panels Test Chamber.

Although deserts and semi-arid environments are great locations for large-scale solar power harvesting establishments, high dust deposition levels, high ambient temperatures, and variations in relative humidity drastically reduce the systems’ ability to retain energy. This results in an up to 30% loss in efficiency.

The current automatic solution is to use an Electro Dynamic Screen (EDS) panel to temporarily clean the solar panels off, but the EDS cannot be run at all times due to a loss of output.

As part of their Senior Design Project, Alex Chan, Sarah Griesse-Nascimento, Kshitiz Kohli, Syed Naufal Bin Veqar and Christopher Petrik, members of the Self-Cleaning Solar Panels Test Chamber team, set out to prevent energy loss in solar panels.

“The issue is that solar panels can not be cleaned at all times so they need a mechanism to determine when to activate this function,” said Petrik.

The team won one of two Design Excellence Awards at ECE Day ’12. Members worked with Professor Malay Mazumder (ECE), Boston University, to detect the dust on solar panels and calculate the loss of output to create an efficient solution.

The team’s Self-Cleaning Solar Panel Test Chamber has the ability to detect surface temperature, measure temperature and relative humidity of the environment, detect presence of dust on the solar panel, measure V-I (voltage vs. current) characteristics of the solar panel, and adjust the angle of the platform that houses the solar panels.

“The project entailed building a test chamber housing a solar panel of up to 4¾” x 4¾” along with an optical system, a temperature and relative humidity sensor to take the measurements of the conditions inside the chamber, and a surface temperature sensor for the solar panel,” the teammates wrote in their project description.

View video of Team Self-Cleaning Solar Panels Test Chamber’s ECE Day Presentation.