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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 Green Materials,Renewable Energy,Solar Power | 4 Comments
A little-known fact is that solar panels  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 , 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  recently discovered a new nano-material  that repels dust and water. Once commercialized, the material could be applied as a sheer coating, creating self-washing windows and solar panels .
Researchers discovered the miraculous little material accidentally as they were working on a cure for Alzheimer’s disease . 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 , meaning it could also be used to prodive extra energy for batteries in electric vehicles  or incorporated into existing lithium batteries .
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.
Via Gizmag.com 
Lead photo by Joe M500 
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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:
 solar panels: http://www.inhabitat.com/solar-power/
 shingles: http://www.inhabitat.com/2009/10/06/sole-power-tiles-curved-solar-shingles-make-installation-easy/
 Alzheimer’s disease: http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp
 supercapacitor: http://www.batteryuniversity.com/partone-8.htm
 electric vehicles: http://www.evworld.com/index.cfm
 lithium batteries: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium_battery
 + Tel Aviv University: http://www.telavivuniv.org/
 Joe M500: http://www.flickr.com/photos/m500/2744689866/
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