Design and implementation of a dust clearning machine to reduce dust soiling on solar PV panels

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Renewable Energy (RE) has massive potential to meet the world s energy demand. Renewable Energy Technologies (RETs) are how RE can be harnessed to supplement energy requirements. Solar Photovoltaic modules are some of the most widely used RETs globally. Natural environmental factors such as Dust soiling tend to reduce the efficiency of Solar Photovoltaic modules by reducing their output power. In Ghana, residential and industrial settings aim to solve problems with dust soiling on solar panels by hiring workers to clean solar panels manually. This method, however, raises concerns regarding safety and labour costs. This project seeks to design and implement a dust-cleaning machine to reduce dust soiling on solar panels to improve operational efficiency. This would provide an effective solution to dust soiling, resolve safety concerns, and eliminate labour costs. The paper methodologically sequences the design requirements through major design decisions, material selection, analytical and numerical comparisons, prototyping, and testing of the proposed remedy to the dust soiling problem. The fabricated system for a 20 W size solar panel measured a cleaning rate of 0.016 m2/s and 0.018 m2/s for forward and reversed motions, respectively. The machine s sprinklers also sprayed 6.65 cm3 of water for every cleaning second. Per the design proposal, thus for ten 20-watt mounted solar panels, the machine consumes about 12.1% of the rated power of the solar panels. Finally, the dust cleaning machine yielded average cleaning effectiveness of 86.2% when using only the solar panel cleaning brush to clean dust from the panel surface.
Capstone Project submitted to the Department of Engineering, Ashesi University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering, May 2022