Dust and sand on the surface of solar panels can reduce their efficiency enormously, especially in deserted areas. Thanks to the new mechanical robot NOMADD from Saudi Arabia, however, cleaning of panels can now be automated and without a drop of water.
In desert environments the sun is strong, but the regular sand storms and the limited amount of water for cleaning, present a big challenge to solar farm owners. Scientists from University of California already reported that washing solar panels is not worth the time, the money and the effort, so others had to come up with better solutions.
Some time ago, we told you about two types of special coatings for the panels, none of which has been made practical yet. The first one came from scientists from Boston University, who created self-cleaning solar panel technology, which uses an electrically-sensitive material deposited on glass or a transparent plastic sheet that covers the panels. The second one comes from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and it is essentially a solar panel coating that repel various types of liquids, including water, and solid particles.
So this is where the NO-water Mechanical Automated Dusting Device (NOMADD) robot comes in, a technology developed Saudi Arabia, a country that is shaping up to become a major contender in solar power generation. NOMADD moves along tracks that can be fitted to any solar panel. It has a brush, which does not cause any damage on the surface, and cleans without using any water. The robot can even be powered by excess solar energy that cannot be stored.
NOMADD is an incredible technology, it must be said, and it has a potential to boost the efficiency of all major solar plants around the world. Because it is an automated technology, it can easily be put into use once a day, making a huge difference from the existing cleaning practices that can be applied once every two weeks. According to the makers, in countries like Saudi Arabia where dust and sand storms occur on regular basis, such robots can pay off in not more than three years. The invention is simple, does not require complicated maintenance and it is extremely resistant to harsh conditions.
If you still doubt the way it works, here is a short demo video of NOMADD in action.
Image (c) NOMADD