Partnering opportunity

Robust self-cleaning coating for easy solar panel maintenance

Summary

A Singapore institute has developed a coating technology that lasts well beyond the lifetime of solution-based coatings. This technology offers high transmission in addition to superior bonding to any surface that requires transparent, anti-soiling coating or fouling – such as solar panels, building façades, windows, vehicle windscreens and aquariums. The institute is interested in potential licensing partnerships with MNEs or SMEs of any size.

Partner sought

The Singapore institute of higher learning seeks to partner industry players (SMEs of all sizes or MNEs) through licensing partnership agreements where the partner could develop the technology further and introduce it as a product or service to its customer segments.

Description

Current self-cleaning coating products in the market tend to be less durable or allow a reduced amount of the light to be transmitted. For solar panels, coatings are generally applied in two ways. Solution-based coatings are less durable and must be regularly re-applied, as they do not bond to a surface long enough to last the lifetime of a solar panel. Coatings applied using vapour phase processes could significantly reduce the light transmission of the substrate, adversely affecting the power output of a solar panel. While solar panels are very durable and can last some 25 years, maintenance is required to maintain its specified output throughout the panel's lifetime to alleviate soiling on the panels. This maintenance can become costly especially if the panels are deployed in remote regions or if soiling is particularly heavy. For example, Middle Eastern locations may face sandstorms and arid weather, while solar panels in urban places like Singapore may encounter bird droppings and hydrocarbon pollution. Cleaning panels may be a difficult task in such countries, where labour cost is high and water is a precious resource. A self-cleaning coating is an ideal solution to ease the maintenance of the solar panels by breaking down organic materials that are usually sticky, and creating a water-loving surface to allow rain or other water sources to easily wash them off naturally, without scrubbing or scraping, keeping the coated surface clean. The Singapore institute has developed a novel Titanium dioxide (TiO2) additive with enforced self-cleaning efficiency. The multi-layer coating with TiO2 is then applied using the physical vapour deposition (PVD) of thin film sputtering onto any surface that requires transparent, anti-soiling coating or fouling. This includes solar panels, building façades, windows, vehicle windscreens and aquariums. This coating technology lasts well beyond the lifetime of solution-based coatings, while offering high transmission and superior bonding to the surface. The Singapore institute is keen to partner MNEs or SMEs of any size by licensing this technology.

Advantages and innovations

The tunable multi-layers of the coating allow for increased light transmission, self-cleaning effect and colour effects and offers the following specifications: • Visible and near-infrared (NIR) light transmission (400-1000 nm): ~90% • Durability: Minimal change in light transmission after 150 cycles of oscillating sand abrasion • Water contact angle: 0-10° • Higher power output over usage period as compared to other coatings available in the market This coating offers the following advantages: • Actively responsive to not only UV light, but also visible light • Easily coated on the surfaces like solar panels and existing or new buildings by painting or spraying • Removes dirty particulate pollutants • Lower maintenance and material costs as the frequency of maintenance is reduced • Lower water consumption for cleaning stains • Higher power output over usage period as compared to other coatings available in the market

Development stage

Field tested/evaluated

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Secret Know-how


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