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PV soiling – Design of sustainable cleaning system

   School of Computing, Engineering & the Built Environment

  Dr Nazmi Sellami  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Global warming is mainly due to the high growth in carbon emissions and pollution worldwide. At present, most countries have set carbon reduction goals. They are promoting energy transition to switch from fossil fuels into renewable and clean energy sources (solar, wind and Hydro).

The MENA region (the Middle East and North Africa) has the potential to provide sustainable electricity supply to Europe using solar energy. However, there is a significant problem facing solar farms and PV installations in the desert and polluted areas. The problem is known as PV soiling. It is a major factor that prevents solar irradiation from reaching the cells and significantly reduces the electrical performance of photovoltaic systems.

The conventional PV cleaning systems defeat the purpose of sustainability and renewable energy. They require a considerable quantity of water and energy to perform a frequent cleaning of the solar panels.

This project is about designing a novel automated cleaning system to keep the PV panel clean all the time and enhance the performance of the PV installations.

This research project combines computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and experimental work to optimise and design the energy-efficient PV cleaning system.

Academic qualifications

A first degree (at least a 2.1) ideally in Mechanical Engineering with a good fundamental knowledge of Fluid Dynamics.

English language requirement

IELTS score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 6.0 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s policy are available online.

Essential attributes:

  • Experience of fundamental Mechanical Engineering applied to renewable energy devices
  • Competent in Computational Fluid Dynamics
  • Knowledge of solar energy
  • Good written and oral communication skills
  • Strong motivation, with evidence of independent research skills relevant to the project
  • Good time management

Desirable attributes:

  • Knowledge of Photovoltaic conversion and efficiency

For enquiries about the content of the project, please email Dr Nazmi Sellami -  

For information about how to apply, please visit our website

To apply, please select the link for the PhD Computing FT application form.


FIGGIS, B., ENNAOUI, A., AHZI, S. & RÉMOND, Y. 2017. Review of PV soiling particle mechanics in desert environments. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 76, 872-881.
KHAN, M. U., ABBAS, M., KHAN, M. M., KOUSAR, A., ALAM, M., MASSOUD, Y. & JAFRI, S. H. M. 2021. Modeling and design of low-cost automatic self cleaning mechanism for standalone micro PV systems. Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments, 43, 100922.
SMESTAD, G. P., GERMER, T. A., ALRASHIDI, H., FERNÁNDEZ, E. F., DEY, S., BRAHMA, H., SARMAH, N., GHOSH, A., SELLAMI, N., HASSAN, I. A. I., DESOUKY, M., KASRY, A., PESALA, B., SUNDARAM, S., ALMONACID, F., REDDY, K. S., MALLICK, T. K. & MICHELI, L. 2020. Modelling photovoltaic soiling losses through optical characterization. Scientific Reports, 10, 58.
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