Snow Removal for Northern Solar Panel Operation

EPA Grant Number: SU836763
Title: Snow Removal for Northern Solar Panel Operation
Investigators: Dong, Lifeng
Institution: Hamline University
EPA Project Officer: Sergeant, Anne
Phase: I
Project Period: November 1, 2016 through October 31, 2017
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2016) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Sustainability , P3 Awards , P3 Challenge Area - Energy

Description:

Improve solar panel efficiency in snowy regions by developing a product that automatically removes snow from solar panel surfaces.

Objective:

This research will address the issues involved with solar energy in regions with large amounts of snowfall and create a product by which to automatically remove snow from the surface of solar panels.

Approach:

A superhydrophobic film will be attached to the face of the solar panel. The hydrophobicity of the surface through its water contact angle will be measured, and the anti-ice properties through contact angle hysteresis will be tested. The energy output of the solar panel with a surface-functionalized film will be compared to a control unaltered panel to determine if the solar panel is operating properly.

Expected Results:

This panel will successfully remove snow and water from the surface of the solar panel while still being transparent in the visible spectrum to allow the solar panel to operate properly.

Supplemental Keywords:

Solar Energy, Photovoltaic Technology, Solar Thermal Heating, Green Chemistry, Cost Benefit Assessment, Sustainable Infrastructure Design, Holistic Design, Environmental Education;