Prof. Gaurav Manik, Head of Department
Department of Polymer and Process Engineering (DPPE) is one of the unique departments of the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee (IITR), located in the Saharanpur Campus of IIT Roorkee. The department performs fundamental and applied research in Polymer Science and Technology, Process Engineering and Management under the supervision of highly motivated faculty members, who are enthusiastically working towards creating highly competitive, academic and research environment in the department.
The department houses state-of-the-art advanced characterization equipments such as DSC, TGA, FTIR, DMA, XRD, AFM, SEM, DLS, UV-vis-IR, to name a few. The department faculties are engaged in extensive research duly supported and funded by several industries and government funding agencies.
IIT Roorkee Scientists develop a hybrid super-hydrophobic coating and mechanical aided passive cleaning system for maintenance-free solar PV modules and win Second Prize in L&T Techgium Open Innovation Contest held in May 2022
Researchers have over the years created a variety of coating compounds to protect various structural, car, and aviation components from dirt, oil grease, and other contaminants. One of the many applications and functions of a super hydrophobic surface is its self-cleaning ability. Application of self-cleaning includes self-cleaning automotive windscreens, stain-resistant fabrics, anti-dust architectural coatings, anti-biofouling paints in boats, anti-stick coatings for outdoor applications such as commercial & residential building and anti-reflective solar panels. In solar power plant, during high turbulent wind and seasonal changes, there will be a heavy dust settlement on solar cells which may affect its electrical output performance as dust and soiling have a significant impact on the efficiency of solar panels. So it needs routine manual cleaning but regular cleaning of solar panels takes lot of time and effort, on the other hand it is advisable not to have direct contact cleaning as cells are more sensitive and brittle in nature and may generate micro-cracks. Solar panels also reflect a significant quantity of light, lowering their efficiency.
To counter aforementioned challenge, the research team comprising of Arpit Dubey and Suvidha Khaire (1st year M.Tech Polymer Science & Engineering students) under the supervision of Prof. Gaurav Manik from the Department of Polymer and Process Engineering at IIT Roorkee have, as part of 5th Edition of L&T Techgium Open Innovation Competition-May 2022, designed an effective self-cleaning coating mechanism coupled with an appropriate mechanical cleaning process, which can be integrated with solar panels covering a larger floor area. The team made several presentations spanning from idea phase to concept and feasibility phase to finally win the silver prize comprising a trophy, cash award of Rs. 5 Lakh and an Engineer at heart memento out of a huge number of 3600+ concepts presented and 30,000+ participants at national level. According to their idea, a suitable hydrophobic coating may act as an anti-dust layer, thereby, increasing solar cell efficiency while lowering cleaning costs. Most solar projects in India are in arid areas (MP, Gujarat, etc.) where dust reduces solar cell efficiency drastically. The efficiency of solar cells can be enhanced by 25-40% by combining the two features of superhydrophobic antireflective coating and mechanical cleaning, thereby, reducing cost of PV electricity by eliminating maintenance and enhancing energy output. Commercially available coating materials have limitations of poor sustainability for high/low-temperature solar applications, weaker substrate adherence, poor durability, etc. Conventional low surface energy fluorine-based coating polymers have certain significant disadvantages, such as the production of hazardous chemicals when overheated during application which can cause health issues, such as teeth and bone decay and harm to kidney, muscles and nerve, eyes and nose irritations.
The researchers have developed an environmental friendly self-cleaning super-hydrophobic coating, with appropriate mechanical aided passive cleaning, which has potentially improved substrate contact, low surface energy, anti-dust property and durability in easy-cleaning, which may make an improvement in efficiency of solar power plant via enhanced overall electrical performance and lowered maintenance cost. The other benefits of employing this setup includes its anti-reflectivity, anti-dust property, high thermal durability, the prevention of snow or ice adhesion, and pollution protection.
Technology Transfer Event at Saharanpur Campus
Technology for synthesizing Inexpensive bipolar membrane capable of dissociating water at lower potential using high-performance polymers is patented and the technology is transferred to Permionics Global technologies based in Vadodara, Gujarat for scale up and commercial manufacturing. This Bipolar membrane is developed under the project scheme ‘Uchchatar Avishkar Yojana’ funded by Ministry of Human Resource Development, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India and Permionics Membranes Private Limited by Prof. Sujay Chattopadhyay and his team. These bipolar membranes are used in water treatment, resource recovery and green energy generation technologies (e.g., Fuel cells, electrolyzer etc.,) promoting zero liquid discharge.