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Contamination and Cleaning of Solar Collectors

Soiling is the phenomena of accumulation of dirt on solar collectors, which blocks or deflects sunlight and significantly reduce the performance of the solar energy systems. We will systematically study soiling and cleaning processes and their effect on the performance of solar systems.  Synergistic lab and field experiments and complementary numerical simulations will be conducted to investigate particle deposition, adhesion and mitigation under natural or artificial wind conditions, which will be applied for performance forecasting and optimal design of cleaning methods.

Prediction and control of contamination of solar collector surfaces is critical for the solar power industry.  First, there is the obvious negative impact of degradation of system efficiency and performance.  But contamination also increases the uncertainty of forecasting the long term performance of solar power systems, which in turn can negatively impact project financing terms.   The research model involves core precompetitive projects, jointly funded by all research sponsors through membership fees, and non-core projects of more narrow scope that are funded separately by other entities. This project will have its own industry consortium independent of the UC Solar industry consortium. Benefits include voting on core projects, royalty-free nonexclusive licensing of core intellectual property, and early access to students, results, and reports.  For further information please contact Prof. E. Daniel Hirleman or Prof. Yanbao Ma.