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Quantifiying particle deposition on solar panels (soiling) with large eddy simulation

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Required Education : PhD
Start date : 1 September 2021
Mission duration : 2 ans


The European Center for Research and Advanced Training in Scientific Computation (CERFACS) aims to solve, through modeling and numerical simulation, scientific and industrial problems requiring the use of the most powerful computing resources.

In the operation of solar farms, performance is a key factor that can be severely degraded by aerosol deposition on the surfaces exposed to solar radiation. This soiling effect is dependent on wind conditions and the aerosol concentration in the ambient air. This process involves complex phenomena which depend on: particle properties (nature, size, shape etc.),  humidity,  surface condition of the wall as well as local airflow conditions. To study this problem, TotalEnergies has initiated a research project including IMFT and CERFACS. The objective is to develop a particle deposition model that can be used in a large scale simulation of the flow around the panels.


The work planned at CERFACS aims to build the simulation methodology with the in-house LES code AVBP for this type of flow. The end goal is to capture the deposition rate at the scale of a panel or a set of panels, taking into account the effects of environment and installation in which the solar panels are placed. In these LES simulations, the particle deposition will be modeled by a Lagrangian description which will have to be completed by a model developed at IMFT for the description of the particle-wall interaction phenomena.

The work will include the following steps:

  • Introduction to the computational code AVBP
    • Simulations of atmospheric boundary layer
    • Lagrangian module with particles
  • Development of the wall model for particle deposition
    • Implementation of the particle wall model developed by the partner laboratory
    • Validation in  LES context on unstructured meshes
    • Simulation of particle deposition on an isolated solar panel
  • Simulation of particle deposition on an array of solar panels and parametric study
    • Influence of micro-physical parameters
    • Influence of wind angle and speed
    • Influence of the installation parameters (e.g. inter-panel spacing and panel angle)

This post-doctoral work will be conducted in connection with an on-going thesis project at IMFT dedicated to parietal modeling of particle deposition, as well as the industrial partner TotalEnergies.


Thomas Jaravel : jaravel@cerfacs.fr
Bénédicte Cuenot : cuenot@cerfacs.fr