Concentrating Solar Power

Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) plants generate electricity by concentrating sunlight onto a focal point. CSP plants are generally located in desert regions – consequently, the mirrors used to reflect and focus the sunlight get soiled with sand and dust, and thus require regular cleaning. The current method simply uses water and brushes; however, water is a scare and precious resource in such arid terrains.

Plasma Cleaning of the mirrors may offer an alternative, water-free solution.

In collaboration with researchers at Cranfield University, we are developing our Air Plasma technology to explore the characteristics of a novel atmospheric pressure plasma system for the reduction of water use in the cleaning of CSP mirrors.

The Global CSP market was valued at over $3bn in 2016, with growth of 13% anticipated by 2025. The development of an appropriate and effective atmospheric plasma system will be a disruptive and game-changing technology for the CSP market.

With the M-CCMD affixed to a robotic arm, and a CSP mirror to soil and process, we are able to perform experiments using a lab-based setup that accurately recreates how this method of cleaning may occur in situ on a CSP plant. With the air plasma both removing residue and creating a self-cleaning surface, the results are not only fascinating, but hugely promising.

The 4 Quadrants on the result seen here demonstrate clearly and powerfully the benefits an air plasma process has on a sample.

Top Left: Soiled, processed, Top Right: Soiled, unprocessed, Bottom Left: Not soiled, processed, Bottom Right: Not soiled, not processed

→ Successful cleaning of the mirror → A hydrophilic surface has been achieved → A hydrophilic surface = a self-cleaning surface

Our paper "Cleaning Concentrating Solar Power Mirrors Without Water" has been published in American Institute of Physics

Read the full paper here