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Title:
AUTOMATED SOLAR MODULE CLEANING SYSTEM FOR SOLAR PLANT
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/207600
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Present invention relates to cleaning of solar panels/modules and specifically, to an automated solar module cleaning system (100) for a solar plant. The system (100) comprises a trolley (10), a motor (40), a blower (20), a brush (30), means for mobility including a drone and a programmable microcontroller for controlling operation cycles of cleaning. In an operation, the trolley (10) moves along the length of the solar plant of the solar modules, the blower (20) blows away the dust from the surface of the solar modules and the brush (30) cleans the surface of the solar modules. The drone is arranged to mobilize the system (100) from one row to another, thereby reducing manual effort of lifting the system (100) and also reducing number of cleaning systems to be installed in single solar plant. The system (100) preserves anti-reflective coating and is scalable to fit any size of solar modules.

Inventors:
PATNEKAR, Yatin (A303, Mangal Tower Plot No 53,,Sector 17, Vashi, Navi Mumbai 3, 400703, IN)
KADOLKAR, Ajay (D803, Vaishnavi Nakshatra,Tumkur Road, Yeshwantpur, Bengaluru 2, 560022, IN)
Application Number:
IN2019/050333
Publication Date:
October 31, 2019
Filing Date:
April 25, 2019
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
PATNEKAR, Yatin (A303, Mangal Tower Plot No 53,,Sector 17, Vashi, Navi Mumbai 3, 400703, IN)
KADOLKAR, Ajay (D803, Vaishnavi Nakshatra,Tumkur Road, Yeshwantpur, Bengaluru 2, 560022, IN)
International Classes:
F24S40/20; B08B1/00; B08B5/00; H02S40/10
Foreign References:
US9130502B12015-09-08
US20070240278A12007-10-18
Other References:
ANONYMOUS: "Drones and Robots Co-Work in Solar Farms", DRONES AND ROBOTS CO-WORK IN SOLAR FARMS, 5 January 2017 (2017-01-05), Retrieved from the Internet [retrieved on 20190207]
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WANGE, Prafulla (12 Venumadhav Apts, 104/7,Off Lane No.14, Prabhat Road, Pune 4, 411 004, IN)
Download PDF:
Claims:
We claim:

1. An automatic solar module cleaning system (100) for a solar plant, the solar plant including a plurality of solar modules connected to inverters and assembled on a single structure, the automatic solar module cleaning system (100) comprising:

a trolley (10) having a trolley frame (11) provided with wheels (12) at a base thereof;

a motor (40) connected to the trolley (10) for providing power to the trolley (10), thereby moving the trolley (10) along a length of the solar plant;

a blower (20) mounted parallel on the trolley (10), the blower (20) consisting of,

• a blower pipe (21) acting as an air header, the blower pipe (21) having holes (22) along length of the blower pipe (21) through that air is blown onto surface of the solar modules, and

• fans mounted on the blower pipe (21), wherein the fans are mounted at any one of places including at the ends of the blower pipe (21) and fitted vertically along the length of the blower pipe (21), wherein number of fans depends on dust load,

wherein, the blower pipe (21) runs along the length of the solar modules, perpendicular to the motion of the system (100) for blowing air along the entire length of the solar modules; and

a brush (30) mounted parallel on the trolley (10), the brush (30) having an electromagnetic latch (31) that acts as a hold and release mechanism to engage or disengage the brush (30) from the system (100), wherein type of the brush (30) is selected from any one of stationary and rotating;

a means for mobility arranged to mobilize the system (100) from one row to another row of the solar plant; and a programmable microcontroller (programmable logic controller (PLC)) operably connected to the blower (20) and the brush (30) for controlling operation cycles of the solar module cleaning based on dust characteristics of a given location;

wherein, as the trolley (10) moves along the length of the solar plant of the solar modules, the blower (20) blows away the dust from the surface of the solar modules and the brush (30) cleans the surface of the solar modules.

2. The automatic solar module cleaning system (100) as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the wheels (12) are mounted on edges along breadth ends of the trolley frame (11).

3. The automatic solar module cleaning system (100) as claimed in claim 1 , wherein movement of the trolley (10) is carried out in any one of ways including along the solar plant length on a pair of guide rails and along on the solar module frames.

4. The automatic solar module cleaning system (100) as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the blower (20) is selected from any one of a compressor and any other air blowing system that is connected to the blower pipe (21) to perform air blowing function.

5. The automatic solar module cleaning system (100) as claimed in claim 1 , wherein shape of the brush (30) is selected from flat and round and the brush (30) is made from materials selected from nylon, plastic and micro-fiber cloth.

6. The automatic solar module cleaning system (100) as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the means for mobility comprises a drone deployed at a charging station in the solar plant to shift the system (100) from one row to another after cleaning cycle is completed and to return back to the charging station after every cycle.

7. The automatic solar module cleaning system (100) as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the means for mobility comprises a drone equipped with the blower pipe (21) of the blower (20) and the brush (30), wherein the drone aligns itself on a solar panel row and performs cleaning along the length of the row and on completion of cleaning of one row, the drone aligns onto next row.

Description:
AUTOMATED SOLAR MODULE CLEANING SYSTEM FOR SOLAR

PLANT

FIELD OF THE INVENTION:

The present invention relates to solar panel arrangements and more specifically to an automated system for cleaning plurality of solar energy generation modules.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION:

Solar modules work by allowing sunlight into the solar cells. The more light that hits the module, the more power will be generated. Dust build-up on the module surface reduces the amount of light passing through to the cells and decreases the output. Losses due to dust build up can be higher than 25%. It is important to clean solar modules periodically in order to protect the investments by maintaining the efficiency.

Water is a scarce and valuable resource. The quantity of water required to clean a solar power plant is huge and should be avoided. Cleaning using a brush type cleaning machine will produce scratches on the module surface and thus reduce efficiency. It also damages the anti-reflective coating on the module surface. Manual periodic cleaning does not ensure consistent output as the efficiency of the modules decreases linearly for everyday of dust build-up. Available existing systems, for cleaning solar modules are:

· Water Jet Cleaning: Common cleaning method is using water and mopping. There is a heavy requirement of water. Water is a scarce resource especially in summer months and in arid locations where solar plant are usually located.

• Brush Type Cleaning: This involves dusting using nylon or micro-fibre brushes. Due to continuous contact with the module surface, the anti- reflective coating gets scraped off the glass. Prolonged use also results in scratches on the glass. Thus reducing efficiency and output of the solar modules.

• Manual Cleaning: This method of cleaning is infrequent in nature and requires highly skilled labour. Hence leads to decreased efficiency and output. Module can be damaged due to improper handling.

Usually the solar plant is comprised of several rows of solar panels. All the current systems listed above are built to clean a single row. Hence the number of panel cleaning system needed to be installed in the solar plant is equal to the number of rows of solar panels. Alternatively if the panel cleaning system has to be shifted from one row to another, it has to be lifted manually and placed on next row. In order to optimize cost or panel cleaning system and to provide mobility to the panel cleaning system, there exists a need to lift the panel cleaning system automatically from one row and place on another row.

Due care must be taken in choosing a cleaning system that does not scratch and damage the solar modules.

Accordingly, there exists a need for environment friendly and an automated, solar panel cleaning system. The present invention addresses such a need, which would be an alternate to above options and overcome above-mentioned drawbacks.

OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION:

An object of the present invention is to provide a cost effective, waterless automated system for cleaning solar modules on regular basis.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a system that is scalable to fit any size of solar modules that is either ground mounted, roof top or agricultural installations. Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a system that is self- energized with its own solar module.

Still, another object of the present invention is to provide the panel cleaning system having automated mobility from one row to another.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION:

Accordingly, the present invention provides an automatic solar module cleaning system for a solar plant. The solar plant includes a plurality of solar modules connected to inverters and assembled on a single structure. The system comprises a trolley, a motor, a blower, a brush, a means for mobility and a programmable microcontroller or a programmable logic controller PLC.

The trolley has a trolley frame provided with wheels at a base thereof. The motor is connected to the trolley for providing power to the trolley, thereby moving the trolley along a length of the solar plant.

The blower is mounted parallel on the trolley. The blower consists of a blower pipe and fans mounted on the blower pipe. The blower pipe acts as an air header. The blower pipe has holes along length of the blower pipe through that air is blown onto surface of the solar modules. The fans are mounted at any one of places including at the ends of the blower pipe and fitted vertically along the length of the blower pipe. Number of fans depends on dust load. The blower pipe runs along the length of the solar modules, perpendicular to the motion of the system for blowing air along the entire length of the solar modules.

The brush is also mounted parallel on the trolley. The brush has an electromagnetic latch that acts as a hold and release mechanism to engage or disengage the brush from the system. The brush can be either stationary type or rotating type. The means for mobility includes a drone arranged to mobilize the system from one row to another row of the solar plant.

The programmable microcontroller programmable logic controller PLC is operably connected to the blower and the brush for controlling operation cycles of the solar module cleaning based on dust characteristics of a given location. In an operation, the trolley moves along the length of the solar plant of the solar modules, the blower blows away the dust from the surface of the solar modules and the brush cleans the surface of the solar modules.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS:

The objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent when the disclosure is read in conjunction with the following figures, wherein

Figures 1 and 2 show perspective views of a solar panel cleaning system, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

Figures 3 and 4 show top views of the solar panel cleaning system, in accordance with the present invention; and

Figures 5 and 6 show side views of the solar panel cleaning system, in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION:

The foregoing objects of the present invention are accomplished and the problems and shortcomings associated with the prior art, techniques and approaches are overcome by the present invention as described below in the preferred embodiments. Accordingly, the present invention provides a self-energized, automated, waterless solar module cleaning system with a unique blower mechanism along with brush. Dust build-up reduces the amount of light passing through to the cells and decreases the output. Losses due to dust build up can be higher than 25%. Due care must be taken in choosing a cleaning system that does not scratch and damage the solar modules.

This present invention is illustrated with reference to the accompanying drawings, throughout which reference numbers indicate corresponding parts in the various figures. These reference numbers are shown in bracket in the following description and are also provided in a table below.

Referring to Figure 1 to 3, an automatic solar module cleaning system (100), (herein after referred as, the system (100)) for a solar plant, in accordance with the present invention is shown. The solar plant includes a plurality of solar modules connected to inverters and assembled on a single structure. The system (100) comprises a trolley (10), a drive motor (40), a blower (20), a brush (30), a means for mobility (not shown) and a programmable microcontroller or a programmable logic controller (PLC).

The trolley (10) has a trolley frame (11) provided with drive wheels (12) at a base thereof. Specifically, the wheels (12) are mounted on edges along breadth ends of the trolley frame (11).

The drive motor (40) is connected to the trolley (10) for providing power to the trolley (10), thereby moving the trolley (10) along a length of the solar plant. In an embodiment, the trolley (10) can be either designed to move along the table length on a pair of guide rails or can also move along on the solar module frames. Transmission gears (13) are arranged to transfer power from the drive motor (40) to the drive wheels (12). A transmission shaft (14) is arranged to transfer power from the drive motor (40) to the drive wheels (12) on opposite side of the system (100).

The blower (20) is mounted parallel on the trolley (10). The blower (20) consists of a blower pipe (21) and fans (not shown) mounted on the blower pipe (21). The blower pipe (21) acts as an air header. The blower pipe (21) runs along the length of the solar modules, perpendicular to the motion of the system (100). The blower pipe (21) has holes (22) along length of the blower pipe (21) through that air is blown onto surface of the solar modules. Thus the blowing happens along the entire length of the solar modules. One or more fans are mounted at the ends or can be fitted vertically along the length of the blower pipe (21). In the embodiment, number of fans depends on dust load. The blower pipe (21) runs along the length of the solar modules, perpendicular to the motion of the system (100) for blowing air along the entire length of the solar modules. In the embodiment, the blower (20) can be a compressor or any other air blowing system that can be connected to the blower pipe (21) to perform the same function. The brush (30) is also mounted parallel on the trolley (10). The brush (30) has an electromagnetic latch (31) that acts as a hold and release mechanism to engage or disengage the brush (30) from the system (100). The brush (30) can be either stationary type or rotating type. The brush (30) can be either flat or round in shape. The brush (30) is made from materials selected from nylon, plastic and micro-fiber cloth.

The means for mobility includes a drone (not shown) arranged to mobilize the system (100) from one row to another row of the solar plant. In one embodiment, the drone is deployed in the solar plant. The main function of the drone is to shift the panel cleaning system from one row to another after cleaning cycle is completed. After every cycle the drone returns back to its charging station. In an alternate embodiment, the drone is equipped with the blower pipe (21) of the blower (20) and the brush (30). The drone aligns itself on the solar panel row and performs the cleaning along the length of the row. On completion of cleaning of one row, the drone aligns onto the next row.

The operation of cleaning system (100) including the blower (20) and brush (30) mechanisms is controlled by a PLC (Programmable logic controller) or a programmable microcontroller. The operation cycles of the system (100) can be programmed and controlled based on dust characteristics of a given location. As the trolley (10) moves along the length of the solar plant, the blower (20) blows away the dust from the surface of the solar modules and the brush (30) cleans the surface of the solar modules. The dust falls off the solar module from the gaps in between the adjacent modules.

Usually 90% of the dust on the surface of solar modules is loose dust and can be blown away. The remaining 10% dust sticks to the surface due to various reasons like moisture, static etc. This dust cannot be blown away; it has to be loosened and can then be blown away. The brush (30) can be engaged and disengaged on periodic basis depending on dust load and dust characteristics at any given location.

Thus, the system (100) preserves the anti-reflective coating and does not produce scratches on the solar module glass. The system (100) design is scalable to fit any size of solar modules in ground mounted, rooftop or agricultural installations. The system (100) provides an efficient energy management solution, wherein the system (100) is a self-energized with its own solar panel.

ADVANTAGES OF THE INVENTION:

1. The system (100) ensures automated periodic cleaning of solar modules.

2. The design of the system (100) is scalable to fit any size of solar modules in ground mounted, rooftop or agricultural installations.

3. The system (100) is designed as a non-contact cleaning system to preserve the anti-reflective coating and does not produce scratches on the panel glass.

4. The system (100) cleans 90% of soiling with specially designed non-contact dust blowing mechanism. A selectively used brush has also been included to clean the remaining 10% of sticky dirt.

5. The system (100) provides an efficient energy management solution, wherein the system (100) is a self energized with its own solar panel.

6. The system (100) provides improved output due to periodic cleaning and ensures speedy recovery on investment.

7. The system (100) provides a simple design, easy to install and less maintenance cost.

8. The automated mobility provided by the drone reduces the number of cleaning systems (100) to be installed in a single solar plant. It also reduces manual effort of lifting the cleaning system (100) from one row to another.

The foregoing descriptions of specific embodiments of the present invention have been presented for purposes of illustration and description. They are not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the present invention to the precise for s disclosed, and obviously many modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teaching. The embodiments were chosen and described in order to best explain the principles of the present invention and its practical application, to thereby enable others skilled in the art to best utilize the present invention and various embodiments with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. It is understood that various omission and substitutions of equivalents are contemplated as circumstance may suggest or render expedient, but such are intended to cover the apphcation or implementation without departing from the scope of the present invention.