Technique Keeps Dust Off Solar Cells

300px-Solar_panels_in_Ogiinuur
English: Solar panel installation at an information center adjacent to Ögii Lake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A new technique could help keep dust off of solar cells, a major obstacle that reduces the efficiency of photovoltaic panels.

The technique, developed by Sergey Biryukov, a researcher at the Ben-Gurion National Solar Energy Center, uses an electric field to charge dust and small particles before repelling them. At a recent demonstration, Biryukov poured a small amount of a dustlike powder onto an electrified solar cell. The dust was immediately thrown back prevented by the electric field from settling onto the panel.

Two electrodes are used to repel the dust. One electrode charges the particles through a process called field charging, or ion bombardment. This gives all particles, regardless of size, the same charge, Biryukov told  TechNewsDaily. Another electrode bearing the opposite charge then repels the particles.

This technology can be added to solar panels after they have already been manufactured and installed, meaning it can be used to retrofit old solar cells, Biryukov said.

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