Self-regulated glass coating can dramatically cut heating and cooling costs

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An international team of researchers led by NTU Singapore presented a ground-breaking proposal for a self-regulated glass coating. According to their paper, it could introduce a cost-effective large-scale solution to global energy-saving and decarbonization.

The novel material is made out of a composite combining vanadium dioxide and polymethyl methacrylate nanoparticles. The coating can be applied on a glass window panel and uses no electrics or controlling components. Instead, it adapts automatically to changing temperatures accommodating both heating and cooling needs as needed.

For example, the glass can block light in the near-infrared spectrum during hot summer temperatures while allowing long-wave infrared to pass. It does the exact opposite in the cold winter months, so the “warmer” light passes in the room and helps heat it up naturally.

Windows have a very high heat transfer coefficient, so they are typically considered bad insulators and points of energy losses. This cannot change without affecting visible light permeability, but the scientists appear to have stricken a balance in this case. Also, this solution is the first to combine both heating and cooling-booster characteristics simultaneously and modulate itself automatically.

To transform windows into beneficial heat-exchanging elements could make a big difference in global building energy usage, and by extension, have numerous environment-related benefits. According to data from the U.S. Department of Energy, windows account for roughly 4% of energy losses for heating and cooling in modern buildings.

During their testing phase, the research team claims they recorded an overall energy-saving performance of 9.5%. If this transposed to a scale of 60 Singapore houses for a year, the savings would account for 330,000 kWh.

The next step for the team is to explore more applications beyond windows, perfect the adaptability of the coating to different environments and requirements, and finally explore applications on materials beyond windows.

Image source: Pixabay

Article source: Techxplore