Solar modules – especially in the desert – need to be dusted regularly in order to generate as much electricity as possible.
Over 100 billion litres of water may be needed to clean them each year.
Which is why a resourceful research team at MIT is looking at waterless cleaning using electrostatic repulsion.
The solar modules are equipped with a transparent, conductive coating of zinc oxide mixed with aluminium atoms.
This imparts an electrical charge to the dust particles. When hovering over the module’s surface with an electrode they are repelled and collected without leaving a single scratch.
The process is fully automatable. And there’s more solar sleight of hand here.