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New Nano-Material Paves Way for Self-Washing Solar Panels and Windows

Posted By Sarah Parsons On December 10, 2009 @ 9:00 am In Environment,Green Materials,Innovation,Renewable Energy,Solar Power | 4 Comments

Windo w washer photo by JOE M500

A little-known fact is that solar panels [1] can become up to 30 percent less effective when they accumulate dust and grime. A more widely known fact is that homeowners climbing up on roofs to fix shingles [2], clean gutters or wash solar panels can lead to some very unpleasant injuries. For those performing the latter, listen up: Researchers at Tel Aviv University [3] recently discovered a new nano-material [3] that repels dust and water. Once commercialized, the material could be applied as a sheer coating, creating self-washing windows and solar panels [3].

sustainable design, green design, self-washing windows, solar panels, nano technology, new materials, green building materials, tel aviv university

Researchers discovered the miraculous little material accidentally as they were working on a cure for Alzheimer’s disease [4]. By placing peptides (short polymers) in a vacuum under high pressure, researchers created self-assembling nanotubes. The end result were tiny nanotubes about one-billionth of a meter in length that all together resemble a small forest of grass. Because the nanotubes are resistant to water and heat, researchers figure that the nano-material would be an ideal coating for windows and solar panels, essentially creating products that clean themselves.

As a bonus, the new nano-material also acts as a supercapacitor [5], meaning it could also be used to prodive extra energy for batteries in electric vehicles [6] or incorporated into existing lithium batteries [7].

The group of Tel Aviv researchers have already been approached to commercialize their new material, so we could see self-washing windows and solar panels within the next few years. And while that’s great news for us greenies, we’re guessing professional window-washers aren’t too pleased by the development.

+ Tel Aviv University [8]

Via Gizmag.com [3]

Lead photo by Joe M500 [9]

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URL to article: http://inhabitat.com/new-nano-material-paves-way-for-self-washing-solar-panels-and-windows/

URLs in this post:

[1] solar panels: http://www.inhabitat.com/solar-power/

[2] shingles: http://www.inhabitat.com/2009/10/06/sole-power-tiles-curved-solar-shingles-make-installation-easy/

[3] Tel Aviv University: http://www.gizmag.com/self-cleaning-nano-coating/13515/

[4] Alzheimer’s disease: http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp

[5] supercapacitor: http://www.batteryuniversity.com/partone-8.htm

[6] electric vehicles: http://www.evworld.com/index.cfm

[7] lithium batteries: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium_battery

[8] + Tel Aviv University: http://www.telavivuniv.org/

[9] Joe M500: http://www.flickr.com/photos/m500/2744689866/

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