An international research effort coordinated by scientists from the University of Jena in Germany has set its sights on developing a new breed of energy-efficient windows and facades. The goal of the project, Large-Area Fluidic Windows (LaWin), is to improve the materials and production processes that enable building facades and windows to adapt to their environment. Specifically, the researchers hope to develop windows that change their light permeability at the touch of a button; building façades that change color based on the amount of sunlight present; and windows and façades that have been integrated with transparent PV modules or in which microalgae are bred to provide a building or home with its own source of biofuel.
In addition to researchers and scientists at Jena University, Weimar University and Beuth University of Applied Sciences, 11 industrial corporations from Germany, Austria, Belgium and the Czech Republic are involved.
The research team at the University of Jena will work on new glass modules for building façades that consist of two joint glass layers: one layer made from a very thin and high strength cover glass and one layer of structured glass. A functional fluid that circulates through channels within the structured glass will enable the window to automatically adjust based on the amount of sunlight or harvest exterior heat, which can be transported to a heat pump.
Based on the results of their laboratory findings, the scientists plan to implement the façades in commercial buildings so they can be tested in real-world conditions.
The end goal is to develop a production process for cost-effective large-sized glass sheets intregrated with microstructures that are compatible with conventional window and façade systems.
The European Commission will be investing $7.31 million in the project over the next three years within the framework of its Horizon 2020 program. The industrial partners will contribute an additional $2.56 million.
Heliotrope Technologies, in conjunction with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, developed a window glass technology that leverages an electrochromic effect to control light and heat transmission independently and dynamically.
In 2013, Innovative Glass Corp began offering SolarSmart, a self-tinting glass that automatically darkens in the presence of direct sunlight to block heat, glare and ultraviolet light.