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Thursday, 19 September 2019

Energy Saving Smart Coatings

Wednesday, 28 September 2011 | Posted by: Prof. Rigoberto Advincula, Case Western Reserve University

What differentiates your heating and cooling needs between winter and summer? Of course we need more heat in winter and more cooling in the summer. One of the desirable architectural features in a building is to have lots of windows. Yet, one of the factors that limits this type of architectural feature is the effect of too much sunlight. There is a need for smart coatings on windows which is able to let in more sunlight (near-Infra Red or NIR) heating during winter and to block it during summers. This alone can save so much in energy bill for buildings not only in temperature but in lighting control. Such that a truly efficient coating if available can be a commercial success and is a green signature. Here is how it works.

First of all, such a coating materials should remain transparent (primary function of a window) and therefore thin. The change in transmission properties can be accomplished by using electrochromic materials (change in color with applied voltage or current). The key is control of the NIR radiation at certain times of the days or seasons. The degree of coloration of the material is important. Another is that is should selectively block or let in certain regions of the light spectrum automatically to capture the most desirable spectrum each time. For example, letting in more NIR light during winter can minimize the energy needed for heating during winter. On the other hand blocking it during the summer enables cooling to be more efficient (heat exchange). Unfortunately, these properties can be found mostly in gold containing coatings (expensive) and yet unproven electrochromic displays (organic or inorganic). Yet if new materials or methods to achieve the same effect can be optimized, it is possible that the energy savings achieved can be equal to what can be gained by using solar cells. That is....these smart windows can be another way of harnessing the energy derived from sunlight.

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Prof. Rigoberto Advincula
Case Western Reserve University
Prof. Rigoberto Advincula
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