--> --> Use of Photovoltaic Technologies in Pollution Prevention and Environmental Restoration, by John Thornton; #90052 (2006)

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Use of Photovoltaic Technologies in Pollution Prevention and Environmental Restoration

John Thornton
National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO

Photovoltaic (PV) technologies generate direct current (DC) electricity through the action of sunlight falling on a doped semiconductor surface. The electricity thus produced can be used to power a wide variety of pollution prevention and environmental restoration applications.

PV is compact, portable and easy to deploy, particularly in small sizes. PV systems capable of powering many environmental applications are commercially available, operate independently from the grid, and do not make noise or produce emissions. PV is often the most cost-effective power option for small applications, particularly when an application is located some distance from an existing power line.

PV-powered sensors are widely used to sample water and air in facilities such as chemical plants, refineries and oil storage terminals to detect releases of toxic substances. It is also used to power fixed or mobile leak detectors along gas and oil pipelines.

PV is frequently used to provide power for restoration tools, such as filters or skimmers, which remove oil, fuel and other hydrocarbons from groundwater. Off-the shelf units are capable of removing up to 12 gallons of floating oil per hour, or operating at well depths in excess of 100 feet.

The paper will provide photos and descriptions of several of these applications, including leak-detection, air and water monitoring and oil-skimming.