According to the European Commission’s Community Research and Development Information Service (CORDIS), the project (called Solar Sharc) has produced a durable, self-cleaning coating for solar panels that should be ready to roll out next year.
CORDIS estimates that dirt on solar panels causes power generation losses worth about 40 billion euros each year, and could be responsible for more than 100 million tons of carbon dioxide output from the fossil fuels needed to offset the lost solar energy.
So, the project requested a 2.78-million-euro grant last year to bring the prototype to operational and eventually certifiable. CORDIS now says the product will be ready in 2019.
Led by London’s South Bank University, along with the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, Millidyne, Opus Materials and Onyx Solar, the group created an inorganic-organic hybrid, which uses silica nano-particles in a way that combines transparency, water-repellency and durability.
“The novel breakthrough of Solar Shar is to co-locate water repellent functional groups alongside active functional groups on nano-structured particles which bond to the resin matrix, cementing the silica nano-particles into the resin giving a tough, durable and transparent coating,” according to the project’s website.
“The nanoparticles are smaller than the wavelength of visible light, so [they] do not scatter light, providing a high degree of transparency. Solar Sharc is based on novel materials that can be manufactured at scale using standard manufacturing techniques.”
Officials say that full-size outdoor testing began last month.
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