Twenty years ago, a new product that prevented dust from gathering on glass surfaces would have been marketed to housewives. Not today.
Chemelic’s new RepelSmart is a perfect fit for the solar industry.
“We decided this was the right market for the product,” said Jeff Eaves, Chamelic’s CEO. “It loves to stick to glass, which makes solar an obvious choice.”
He admitted that it would have probably been bottled and sold on shelves in a different time. But right now the British company is exploring new markets for its technology.
The name Chamelic came from a blending of words the company founders thought described its polymer systems: Chameleon and dynamic. The company was created by engineering faculty at the University of Leeds in 2006 and has focused on exploiting the innovative chemicals it discovered.
RepelSmart is an ultra-thin polymer that covers mirrors in concentrated solar projects and on solar photovoltaic panels, Eaves said.
“If you have an issue with dust on panels, which most solar is in arid climates,” said Sasha Heriot, business development manager for Chamelic, “you spray this on a clean surface, and it acts by repelling the dust off the surface.
The trick, the thing that makes it a good fit for solar, is that it forms a very thin film that’s so thin it doesn’t change the optical factors of the CSP or solar panels, Eaves said.
The company developed the product two years ago and has done several lab tests along with some paid tests at two CSP plants in Arizona.
It typically lasts at least eight weeks, depending on weather conditions, and can be sprayed on with whatever is used to clean panels, Eaves said.
Dust build up can significantly reduce the efficiency of solar panels and CSP mirrors. RepelSmart is designed to keep solar operating at its peak as long as possible.
“Now we’re looking for some trials with utility-scale projects before we get ready to market and sell it,” Eaves said.
He and Hariot were courting potential market tests at Solar Power Generation USA in Las Vegas last week.