Heliotrope Technologies, in conjunction with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), has developed a window glass technology that leverages an electrochromic effect to control light and heat transmission independently and dynamically.
Heliotrope is commercializing the discovery in the form of a dynamic window coating that will deliver improved energy efficiency at a competitive price. The company says price is one of the biggest hurdles for wider adoption of smart window technology.
Windows with the Heliotrope EC coatings can switch reversibly between three states: transparent, heat blocking, and heat and light blocking. The company refers to these states as Bright, Cool, and Dark. A small voltage controls the optical state of the device. Minimal power is consumed during switching and almost none is used to maintain either of the two solar blocking states. This yields flexibility for system integration and installation.
Heliotrope Technologies is the licensee of the intellectual property developed at LBNL. In partnership with LBNL, Heliotrope was awarded a $3 million grant from the Department of Energy in 2012. The company has also received private funding and plans to raise Series A funding in early 2014.
Heliotrope is shipping samples of the new coating to some glass manufacturers to evaluate its potential for commercial and residential buildings. Full commercialization will be achieved in partnership with one or more established manufacturers of building glass or finished windows. This business model avoids the high capital requirements of independent manufacturing and allows for easier integration into large-scale manufacturing and distribution of windows and building glass. The company plans to begin commercial sampling of its dynamic window coating in the fourth quarter of 2013.
Based on the immediate potential of Heliotrope technology to improve the efficiency of building lighting, heating and cooling, the company is initially focusing on the commercial flat glass market.