Operators: Supercharge Your Solar Panels with Nanotech

By Lotus Nano

It's astonishing that even in the few minutes you need to read this article there will be solar panels installed somewhere - without nanocoating. You might say: So What?

There's a lot nanocoating can do if all is done right even for retrofitted on operational panels. An investment that pays for itself. In this article, we will introduce you to a specific nanocoating that can work wonders on Solar/PV panels, particularly in climates similar to South and Southeast Asia.

We'll be discussing specifically Superhydrophobic nanocoatings in this article. We'll have a look at how they can lead to increased efficiency, reduced maintenance costs, and extended the lifespan. The potential is considerable and the investment to do it pays by itself with the performance gains you'd otherwise not seen.

Superhydrophobic coatings are not the only thing, the Nanotech universe has on offer to the Solar/PV world. There are several other nanocoatings, such as anti-reflective, hydrophilic, temperature control, light-trapping and others which are slowly entering the market (even combinations of several desirable properties) and they all cater for particular purposes and climate conditions. But in most cases, and especially in India a performant superhydrophobic coating can bring remarkable performance gains.

1. Benefits of Superhydrophobic Coatings

Superhydrophobic coatings offer a number of benefits for solar energy companies, including:

2. Super-Hydrophobicity - What's that?



latin: "fear of water"

Hydrophobic is a property of a substance that repels water. Hydrophobic surfaces lack the affinity for water, and tending to repel or not to absorb water. Nature example: The "Lotus Leaf Effect". Super-Hydrophobicity offers an even stronger effect compared to hydrophobicity.

Superhydrophobic coatings are a relatively new and innovative nanotechnology that have gained immense popularity in recent years, becoming increasingly relevant in more and more industries. Thanks to their unique properties, these coatings have a wide range of potential uses in many different areas.

The science behind superhydrophobic coatings is fascinating and complex. As mentioned before, these coatings are made up of nanoscale structures that are designed to trap air between them. However, these structures can take many different shapes and forms, depending on their intended application. For example, some coatings may use a random distribution of nanostructures, while others may use a more organised pattern.

One of the most promising applications for superhydrophobic coatings is in the field of solar panels. By applying these coatings to the surface of solar panels, a thin layer is created that prevents water and dirt from sticking to the surface. This can lead to significant increases in the efficiency of the solar panels, as dirt and debris can significantly reduce their effectiveness.

When examining the components of superhydrophobic coatings, we can see that they are typically made up of two main layers: a substrate and a topcoat. The substrate is the base layer that is applied to the surface, while the topcoat is the layer that contains the nanoscale structures. It is the topcoat that creates the superhydrophobic effect, as it is the layer that repels water and other liquids.

The Lotus Leaf Effect
Nothing ever sticks: The Lotus Leaf Effect

3. Case Studies

Many solar energy operators and producers have already started using superhydrophobic coatings on their solar panels, with positive results. For example, a solar energy company in Arizona, USA, applied a superhydrophobic coating to a test panel and found that it required 75% less cleaning than an uncoated panel over the course of a year. Another solar energy company in Spain used a superhydrophobic coating on their solar panels and saw a 7% increase in energy output.

Check out our case study on how we achieved a 13% increase in energy output, near-zero water consumption, and a 50% reduction in cleaning cycles and time for a solar project in KSA. Read it here. These are of cause extremely positive results and (you guessed it) clearly not the norm. But what we can say with confidence today after numerous trials and pilot projects especially in India that 3 to 6% performance gains are realistic including the cutting of water consumption by minimum 50%. This is considerable.

4. Application Procedure

Applying superhydrophobic nanocoating to solar panels involves a simple but not a trivial process.

First, the panels are cleaned thoroughly to remove any dust, dirt, or debris. Then, the nanocoating is sprayed onto the surface of the panels. There are a number of techniques. The panels are left to dry for a certain period of time, typically a few hours, before they can be tested for their water-repellent properties.

The thickness of the nanocoating layer can vary depending on the type and strength of the coating used. Generally, a thicker coating layer provides better water-repellent properties, but it may also affect the panels’ performance by reducing the amount of sunlight that can pass through the coating.

It’s therefore important to note that the application process of superhydrophobic nanocoating should be done by professionals to ensure the proper application to get the best results.

FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

Here some common questions that solar energy companies such as solar park operators or maintenance teams have asked us about superhydrophobic nanocoating:


What is superhydrophobic nanocoating, and how does it work?

A Superhydrophobic nanocoating is a thin layer of nanoparticles that repels water and other liquids. The nanoparticles are structured in a way that creates tiny pockets of air between them, which prevents water droplets from sticking to the surface. When water comes into contact with a superhydrophobic surface, it beads up and rolls off, taking any dirt or debris with it.

How long does superhydrophobic nanocoating last?

The lifespan of superhydrophobic nanocoating depends on several factors, including the type of surface it’s applied to, the quality of the coating, and the environment in which it’s used. Generally, superhydrophobic nanocoating can last up to 10 years before it needs to be reapplied.

Is superhydrophobic nanocoating environmentally friendly?

Yes, superhydrophobic nanocoatings are generally environmentally friendly. Unlike some other types of coatings, those doesn’t contain harmful chemicals or pollutants that could harm the environment or wildlife. In addition, the coating can actually help to reduce the amount of water and cleaning chemicals needed to maintain solar panels, which can have a positive impact on the environment.

Can Superhydrophobic Nanocoatings be applied to all types of solar panels?

Superhydrophobic nanocoating can be applied to most types of solar panels, including monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film panels. However, the coating may not be suitable for some specialised or highly textured panels, so it’s important to consult with a professional before applying the coating.

How is superhydrophobic nanocoating applied to solar panels?

Superhydrophobic nanocoatings can be applied to solar panels using a variety of methods, including spraying or brushing. The application method depends on the type of coating being used and the size and shape of the panels.

How does superhydrophobic nanocoating affect solar panel efficiency?

Superhydrophobic nanocoating can actually improve solar panel efficiency by reducing the amount of dirt and debris that accumulates on the surface. When solar panels are covered in dirt or other particles, it can block sunlight and reduce the amount of energy they can generate. By repelling water and debris, superhydrophobic nanocoating helps to keep solar panels clean and functioning at optimal levels.

Will superhydrophobic nanocoating lower panel efficiency?

When applied correctly, superhydrophobic nanocoatings can actually enhance the efficiency of panels. By creating a water-repellent surface, superhydrophobic nanocoatings prevent contaminants from adhering to the panel surface, which can reduce the amount of sunlight that is absorbed and lower the efficiency. With clever application techniques, panels can maintain their clarity and performance, ensuring maximum energy production. Additionally, our careful application process minimises any impact on efficiency, so you can enjoy the benefits of a clean and efficient panel without compromise.

Can superhydrophobic nanocoating harm or damage Solar Panels?

As of April 2023 we are unaware of any conclusive scientific evidence which suggests that superhydrophobic nanocoatings cause any harm or damage to solar panels.

Do nanocoatings wear off over time?

Yes, nanocoatings on solar panels wear off over time. The durability of the nanocoating depends on the specific chemical formulation, the application work and environmental factors such as exposure to harsh weather, UV radiation, or pollutants. However, it is important to note that these coatings are designed to protect and enhance the performance of solar panels, and any potential wearing off would be a gradual process over years. Regular inspection and maintenance can help ensure that the nanocoating remains effective for as long as possible.

Are superhydrophobic nanocoatings expensive?

The cost of superhydrophobic nanocoating can vary depending on the size of the solar panel array and the type of coating being used. However, the cost is often offset by the savings in cleaning and maintenance costs over time. In addition, the improved efficiency of the solar panels can result in increased energy production and revenue, making the investment in nanocoating worthwhile.

Can superhydrophobic nanocoating be removed if necessary?

Yes, superhydrophobic nanocoatings can be removed if necessary. However, it’s important to consult with a professional before attempting to remove the coating, as improper removal can damage the solar panels.

Is it recommended to run trials or pilots?

Absolutely! Before applying a superhydrophobic coating to all your solar panels, it is highly recommended to run trials to determine the effectiveness of the coating — especially in your specific settings. This can include testing different types and strengths of superhydrophobic coatings, as well as comparing them to other types of nanocoatings altogether. By running trials, solar energy companies can ensure they are choosing the best coating for their specific needs. Talk to us about this!

I'm a producer. Do you recommend nanocoating as a final step in our production?

As a solar panel producer, incorporating nanocoating as a final step in your production process can highly rewarding. Adding this protective layer can offer tangible advantages to your products and customers, such as increased efficiency and reduced maintenance. The key marketable benefits of incorporating nanocoating include:
  • Improved self-cleaning properties: Nanocoatings help prevent dirt, dust, and other contaminants from accumulating on the solar panel surface, which can impair performance.
  • Enhanced efficiency: By keeping the panels cleaner and minimising soiling, you ensure more sunlight reaches the panels, potentially increasing energy output.
  • Reduced maintenance costs: Due to the self-cleaning properties, your customers will experience less frequent need for cleaning, lowering their overall maintenance expenses.
  • Longer lifespan: Nanocoatings can protect the solar panels from harmful environmental factors, contributing to a more extended panel life and higher return on investment for clients.
  • Competitive advantage: By providing solar panels with advanced protective layers, your products will stand out in the market, and your customers will appreciate the added value.
  • Save your client the retrofit: By applying nanocoating at the production stage under ideal factory conditions, you offer a more cost-effective solution compared to post-installation coating. The factory-controlled environment ensures optimal application, while avoiding the higher expenses and labor-intensive process associated with retrofitting nanocoatings at remote or challenging locations.
Given these benefits, incorporating nanocoating as a final step in your production process can improve the quality and performance of your solar panels, ultimately benefiting both your business and clients.

Lotus Nano offers services for Panel Producers and Solar Energy Operators. ↗︎ More here.


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