Stony Brook Matters
Solar panel dust

A new technology developed by Shrish Patel, a PhD candidate in Professor Alexander Orlov’s Materials Science and Chemical Engineering lab in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, has been recognized in three entrepreneurial competitions — one here at Stony Brook, a second in the Long Island region, and a third in New York State. The technology uses electric fields to sweep dust from solar panels and has promise as a new self-cleaning solar panel system designed to enhance energy efficiency and reduce costs.

Solar panels in dry or desert regions quickly become contaminated in a dust storm.
Solar panels in dry or desert regions quickly become contaminated in a dust storm.

This technology is based on a patent-pending transparent coating developed at Stony Brook. Dust is a huge problem for solar panels installed in desert regions as it can reduce energy output by up to 25 percent under regular conditions and up to 100 percent during dust storm events. The standard approach is to mechanically clean solar panels, which uses both water and manual labor. Currently there are no scalable and efficient automatic solutions to this problem. The new self-cleaning solution developed in Orlov’s lab can address this challenging issue and can be potentially commercialized by the solar industry.

Entrepreneurial Lead Shrish Patel (left) with Principal Investigator Alexander Orlov
Entrepreneurial Lead Shrish Patel (left) with Principal Investigator Alexander Orlov

Patel was among 13 participants in the Stony Brook Entrepreneurs Challenge, which was organized by the Stony Brook Business Development Center and held at the Long Island High Technology Incubator. The judging panel — including experienced venture investors, entrepreneurs and business services professionals — recognized the great potential of this technology by awarding him first prize of $10,000. Furthermore, Patel was selected to represent Stony Brook at the Long Island Regional Business Plan Competition, where he received second prize of $750, outshining 16 other participants. His winning streak did not end there. He went on to represent Long Island at the statewide New York Business Plan Competition (NYBPC) in Albany, where he received third prize of $1,000 among 13 finalists from across in New York State in the Energy and Environment track.

The  NYBPC is the only collegiate business competition in the nation that is regionally coordinated and includes the entire state of New York, with more than 100 colleges and universities represented between regionals and finals. More than 100 student-led teams from across New York pitched their business ideas at the 10th annual NYBPC Finals, held at the Sage Armory in Albany on April 26 in conjunction with the E^3 Entrepreneurs Expo featuring resources for entrepreneurs. Winners were selected by judging panels made up of venture capitalists, angel investors, investment bankers, sophisticated business leaders and seasoned entrepreneurs.

 

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