# Title Team Members TA Documents Sponsor
15 Automated Self-cleaning Solar Panel
Area Award: Solar Energy
Terry Green
Yann-Tyng Lin
Yousaf Abdul Salam
Our project is to design an automated solar panel cleaning mechanism that detects obstructions (bird droppings, leaves, etc.) on the panel and automatically cleans them away. Since solar panels are outdoors, they are prone to shading due to natural debris. For large solar installations in remote areas it could become difficult and/or expensive to monitor and clean hundreds of large solar panels. Because of the build-up of dirt on a cell in a solar module, hot spots are created and heat is produced instead of electrical power. This reduces efficiency and life-time of the solar panel. Our project would greatly reduce the amount of service calls for cleaning, resulting in lower operating costs in the long run. The project will be implemented using current and voltage sensing on individual solar cells in an array to provide performance feedback that determines if a cell has become shaded. Cloud shading will be taken in to account by programming and observing whether a whole group of solar cells have become shaded or just isolated cells. We will be adapting the car windshield cleaning mechanism for optimal cleaning (direction, speed, frequency). A soap/water mixture will be sprinkled during the cleaning cycle. Periodic cleaning will be programmed to occur in intervals based on the tradeoff between power consumption and cleaning effectiveness. For example, solar panels located in areas with high bird populations would require more frequent periodic cleaning. Our project will incorporate power electronics, microcontroller programming and control systems for motors.

Wireless IntraNetwork

Daniel Gardner, Jeeth Suresh

Wireless IntraNetwork

Featured Project

There is a drastic lack of networking infrastructure in unstable or remote areas, where businesses don’t think they can reliably recoup the large initial cost of construction. Our goal is to bring the internet to these areas. We will use a network of extremely affordable (<$20, made possible by IoT technology) solar-powered nodes that communicate via Wi-Fi with one another and personal devices, donated through organizations such as OLPC, creating an intranet. Each node covers an area approximately 600-800ft in every direction with 4MB/s access and 16GB of cached data, saving valuable bandwidth. Internal communication applications will be provided, minimizing expensive and slow global internet connections. Several solutions exist, but all have failed due to costs of over $200/node or the lack of networking capability.

To connect to the internet at large, a more powerful “server” may be added. This server hooks into the network like other nodes, but contains a cellular connection to connect to the global internet. Any device on the network will be able to access the web via the server’s connection, effectively spreading the cost of a single cellular data plan (which is too expensive for individuals in rural areas). The server also contains a continually-updated several-terabyte cache of educational data and programs, such as Wikipedia and Project Gutenberg. This data gives students and educators high-speed access to resources. Working in harmony, these two components foster economic growth and education, while significantly reducing the costs of adding future infrastructure.