RDP engineering team recognized for its “clean machine” of solar panels – LacombeOnline.com

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Solar panels are becoming more common as a clean, climate-friendly source of energy, but when they get dirty from dust or grime, their efficiency drops by up to 50%. However, a former team of engineering technology students from Red Deer Polytechnic have been recognized for their solution to this common problem.

Kyle Victor, Carson West, and Nathan Crombie, former engineering technology students at Red Deer Polytechnic, have developed a pneumatic air-blast cleaning system that requires minimal maintenance, is economical, and simple to install, is fully automated, requires no water supply, has few moving parts, can operate in any climate, adapts to any panel array geometry, and has the potential to be powered by the same solar panel system it is designed to clean.

The former team was honored as a provincial finalist for the Capstone Project of the Year award from the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET).


In the former team’s prototype, a pneumatic air sprayer is attached to the top of the solar panel and another in the middle. An air compressor with tubing is connected to the sprayers. An Arduino kit, which is an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software, is programmed to run a timed sequence for each sprayer. When the process starts, the top sprayer sprays air for a few seconds. When dust is cleared from the top half of the panel, the top sprayer turns off and the middle sprayer turns on for a few seconds to clear the already moving dust from the rest of the panel.

“Our team had two goals for this project. The first was to create a design applicable to residential and industrial solar panel systems. The second was to make sure it was cheaper and more efficient than currently available cleaning systems,” said former team member Victor. “Our system can clean a solar panel in seconds unlike other systems where, depending on the location of the panel, that panel may be the last in line waiting to be cleaned and may have spent hours running at low efficiency.”

“The former Red Deer Polytechnic team is to be commended for their no-nonsense approach to solving a practical problem associated with solar energy,” said ASET CEO Barry Cavanaugh. “This represents a significant step forward in maximizing the efficiency of an important clean energy source and demonstrates the combination of practicality and innovation that characterizes the engineering technology profession.”

The project from the former Red Deer Polytechnic team is one of eight finalists named by ASET for the 2022 Capstone Project of the Year award. The winning project will be announced later this year.

The Capstone Project of the Year award was created by ASET in 2017 in response to massive member interest in back-to-school stories about Capstone projects undertaken by teams of NAIT Engineering Technology students. , SAIT, Red Deer Polytechnic, and Lethbridge College as part of their program completion requirements.

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