8 February, 2022
Antofa Innova is an initiative of the Antofagasta Region Production Development Committee developed by the Innovation Club. The goal is to strengthen and promote the development of technological innovations. The initiative uses an open innovation strategy to generate industry-applicable solutions that will help overcome the challenges faced by the leading industries in the region: mining, energy, logistics, tourism, water and agriculture.
During this second open innovation tournament, one of the challenges in the Energy Area was posed by Cerro Dominador, the first concentrated solar power plant in Latin America. It asked for an alternative system to clean the heliostats (mega-mirrors) in order to reduce the use of water by at least 20%. Until now, the plant has been using trucks that have rotating brushes to clean the heliostats with osmotized water. In eco mode, these trucks use approximately 45 liters per heliostat, and in cleaning mode (when the heliostats are really dirty), consumption rises to 100 liters each.
Nano2 Chile, with its project called “Nanoglass,” became the winner after a preliminary selection of five projects, followed by a meticulous selection process. Nano2 Chile engages in designing solutions, using nanotech products and innovation, to make the changes needed by the energy and mining industries to increase productivity and competitiveness and to validate their processes socially, environmentally and in the workplace.
Nanoglass consists of applying a transparent, dust-resistant, waterproof, lightning-proof and antistatic nanomaterial film that will reduce the use of water by 90% in long-term industrial dry cleaning. At this time, the company is conducting laboratory testing in Calama and it will soon begin testing on one heliostat to gather onsite information over a couple of weeks to be able to measure the effectiveness of this solution.
According to Cesar Coloma, Cerro Dominador’s mechanical and commissioning supervisor, “innovation is one of the core thrusts of our work and in this context, the nano-protection film was, out of all the solutions received in the tournament, the one that earned the highest score from the panel of judges because it was the solution that was most developed and was truly innovative. This film has been successfully tested on other surfaces of equipment exposed to dust, so we believe that it may have a positive impact by reducing both the cleaning cycles and the consumption of water in the solar farm.”
Nibaldo Castillo, CEO of Nano2 Chile, added that this is “a solution with proven properties (in other scenarios) that will reduce the use of water in long-term industrial dry cleaning by 90%.” He also said that “we are quite motivated by participating in Antofa Innova and by developing a proposal in line with the challenge and great project presented by Cerro Dominador.”
Rowena Moreno, Strategic Projects Manager of the Innovation Club and one of the Tournament organizers, said that “in conjunction with Corfo, we have sought, through Antofa Innova, to strengthen and promote the development of technological innovations using an open innovation strategy that will help overcome the challenges faced by the most relevant industries in the region, and to close the gaps and bring entrepreneurships and companies closer to co-developing solutions with a high local value.”