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Ideas for a solar panel cleaner
post May 22 2008, 05:55 PM
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Just had an idea for a solar panel cleaner. Place a small, black tank on top of the deck. At the bottom of the tank is a one-way valve pointing into the tank. At the side of the tank is a pressure-relief valve tied to the dust removal tubes.

  1. Starting at daybreak, the tank starts filled with cold, dense atmo.
  2. As the tank warms, the pressure builds within the tank.
  3. Once the pressure reaches the cut-off of the pressure relief valve, the valve triggers and opens full-bore until the pressure difference reaches zero, and it then closes.
  4. Pressurized air comes out of the tank and blows off dust from dust-sensitive devices, camera, solar panels, view ports, etc.
  5. At night fall, the tank cools, lowering the pressure within the tank until it is below the outside pressure.
  6. The one way valve opens, refilling the tank with colder, denser air.
Because the tank isn't required to hold high pressures, it can be very light. There is about 100 degree C difference between day/night, meaning during the day the tank should reach about 50% higher pressure than night time. The pressure difference can be increased by adding a heating element.

This removes the need for storing a gas for the cleaning, as well as any need for a pump.

Ready...Set...Rip 'er apart!

Space Enthusiast Richard Hendricks
"The engineers, as usual, made a tremendous fuss. Again as usual, they did the job in half the time they had dismissed as being absolutely impossible." --Rescue Party, Arthur C Clarke
Mother Nature is the final inspector of all quality.
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Steve G
post May 29 2008, 03:57 AM
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The simplist and most weight efficient would be to have "windshield wipers". You may want to have them charged to repell dust magnetically (or attract them and then switch polarity to dump them over the side) They could be rotated after the swipe with a brush to give them a nice polish after.
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post May 29 2008, 07:16 AM
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QUOTE (Steve G @ May 29 2008, 04:57 AM) *
The simplist and most weight efficient would be to have "windshield wipers".

Wipers to cover all of the arrays on a vehicle would be complex, large and heavy. You want a non-moving, low mass, low volume solution. I reported on one in development at the IAC in '06 - something along these lines..

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