School of Engineering News

Faculty, students conduct solar energy research

December 10, 2019

Faculty, students conduct solar energy research

The Solar Garden, established in 2016 on the Allendale Campus, is owned and operated by Consumers Energy, and part of the partnership includes a six-year, $20,000 grant for faculty-led solar education research and projects. The grant program runs through October 2020. 

Below are highlights of research and projects currently underway.

Self-Cleaning Solar Panels

Heidi Jiao, professor of electrical engineering, and Chris Pung, associate professor of product design and manufacturing, received more than $4,800 to conduct research on coatings that can be applied to solar panels to protect them from environmental elements like wind, dirt and sand. Assisting them are senior engineering students Noe Villaneuva and Joe Ruemenapp.

The team is conducting indoor simulations and outdoor field tests on different types of solar panels, and testing the effectiveness of coatings to see how well each one repels dirt and water. 

"Cleaning solar panels is labor intensive," said Jiao. "Applying a thin layer of coating could make outdoor panels almost self-cleaning and manual cleaning wouldn't be needed as often." Continue Reading 

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Page last modified December 10, 2019