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    Eight types of common airborne particles were used to investigate whether the composition of dust influences its soiling potential on photovoltaic panels. Chosen model particles were roughly spherical, 10-30 μm in diameter to minimize the differences in size and shape. While the predicted van der Waals forces were lower than the adhesion forces measured with an atomic force microscope (AFM), the adhesion potential as a function of surface energy did follow the theoretical pattern. The organic and carbon-based materials, namely the pollen grains and spherical graphite, exhibited a significantly larger adhesion force to the glass surface, indicating high attachment efficiency. The developed generalized linear model confirmed that the type of material should be included in soiling models as a variable, as it provides information on the likelihood of particles sticking to and remaining on the surface. The adhesion force between soiled particles and the surface can be estimated based on the local ambient dust composition to predict the short-term fate of the depositing particles and develop cleaning schedules and techniques accordingly. The results also highlight the need to study dust composition to understand long-term soiling, where chemical characteristics and changing environmental conditions may lead to cementation.


    Hanna F Varga, Mark R Wiesner. Effect of Dust Composition on the Reversibility of Photovoltaic Panel Soiling. Environmental science & technology. 2021 Feb 02;55(3):1984-1991

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    PMID: 33442982

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