Enabling Renewable Energy Technologies in Harsh Climates with Ultra-Efficient Electro-Thermal Desnowing, Defrosting, and Deicing

Longnan Li, Siavash Khodakarami, Xiao Yan, Kazi Fazle Rabbi, Ahmet Alperen Gunay, Andrew Stillwell, Nenad Miljkovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The rapid anthropomorphic emission of greenhouse gases is contributing to global climate change, resulting in the increased frequency of extreme weather events, including unexpected snow, frost, and ice accretion in warmer regions that typically do not encounter these conditions. Adverse weather events create challenges for energy systems such as wind turbines and photovoltaics. To maintain energy efficiently and operational fidelity, snow, frost, and ice need to be removed efficiently and rapidly. State-of-the-art removal methods are energy-intensive (energy density > 30 J cm−2) and slow (>1 min). Here, pulsed Joule heating is developed on transparent self-cleaning interfaces, demonstrating interfacial desnowing, defrosting, and deicing with energy efficiency (energy density < 10 J cm−2) and rapidity (≈1 s) beyond what is currently available. The transparency and self-cleaning are tailored to remove both snow and dust while ensuring minimal interference with optical light absorption. It is experimentally demonstrated a multi-functional coating material on a commercial photovoltaic cell, demonstrating efficient energy generation recovery and rapid ice/snow removal with minimal energy consumption. Through the elimination of accretion, this technology can potentially widen the applicability of photovoltaics and wind technologies to globally promising locations, potentially further reducing greenhouse gas emissions and global climate change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2201521
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number31
StatePublished - Aug 1 2022


  • defrosting
  • deicing
  • desnowing
  • photovoltaic
  • pulsed Joule heating
  • self-cleaning
  • superhydrophobic
  • transparent

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • General Chemistry
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • General Materials Science
  • Electrochemistry
  • Biomaterials


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