New Window Coating Could Save Millions in Indoor Lighting Costs

Oregon BEST grant funds industry-university collaboration that could cut heat transfer through windows while allowing more visible light to enter buildings -Oregon BEST has awarded a commercialization grant to a team of industry-university researchers co-developing a new window coating that could cut infrared (IR) light and heat transfer through window glass while simultaneously allowing more visible light to enter buildings—a combination that could save millions of dollars in indoor electric lighting costs.      The project involves faculty researchers at two Oregon universities, two Oregon startup companies, and equipment and expertise at two Oregon BEST shared-user signature research labs. Each side of a piece of plain glass reduces transmittance of visible light by four percent, so a double-pane window without any coatings cuts the light entering a building by 16 percent.

When low emissivity (Low-E) coatings are added to the glass to reduce heat loss from inside a building (or solar gain from outside), the transmittance of visible light is reduced even more—up to 30 percent or higher in many windows, resulting in an increased need for electrical lighting indoors.


“If you were to put the coating we’re developing on all the architectural glass out there, you would save hundreds of millions of dollars in electricity currently used for lighting,” said Paul Ahrens, CEO of CSD Nano, Inc., a Corvallis, Ore. startup that specializes in anti-reflective thin-film coatings. “We are confident that our combination of chemical engineering and nanostructures will allow us to attain an unprecedented infrared-to-visible light ratio.”


Ahrens said the Oregon BEST grant will support advancement of a “new recipe” of window coating being developed by researchers at Oregon State University’s Oregon Process Innovation Center for Sustainable Solar Cell Manufacturing (OPIC), a signature research facility of Oregon BEST, directed by Oregon BEST researcher and OSU professor Chih-hung Chang.


Once the coating is developed, CSD Nano will apply it to glass samples that will be mounted in window frames and analyzed by a major window manufacturer to determine how the new coating performs on real windows. (Small coated glass samples shown in photo, above.)


In addition, the coating will be tested at the University of Oregon’s Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory, also a signature research facility of Oregon BEST, directed by Oregon BEST researcher and UO professor G.Z. “Charlie” Brown. The lab’s Climate Chamber can be used to test products that either affect human comfort or whose performance depends on environmental conditions. The chamber is also used to demonstrate comfort phenomena in the context of buildings and design criteria.


Many current Low-E window coatings contain silver to help reflect heat. But silver is a costly and limited natural resource, and the heat reflected from silver-based Low-E coatings can be so concentrated in certain climates that lawns can be scorched or siding on nearby structures damaged. So window manufacturers would welcome coatings that do not contain silver.


Window makers are also interested in coatings that could be more reflective when the summer sun is high in the sky, but allow more heat through the glass when the winter sun is low and solar gain in a building is desired.


As part of the project, CSD Nano hopes to also develop a low-temperature process for applying the coating to Plexiglas for Indow Windows, the Portland startup company (and fellow Oregon BEST commercialization grant recipient) that sells its interior press-in window inserts in 20 states. Currently, no Low-E coating are available for Plexiglas due to the high temperatures used to apply coatings.


The $150,000 grant is part of $1 million in Commercialization Grants that Oregon BEST has awarded during the past year to speed commercialization of the state’s most promising clean technologies being developed by university researchers and private businesses.


CSD Nano also received gap funding from the Oregon Nanoscience & Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI) for earlier thin film work.


“This project is a great example of Oregon’s leadership position as a cleantech innovator,” said David Kenney, President and Executive Director of Oregon BEST. “Energy efficiency is the most cost-effective energy strategy for addressing new energy demands, and innovative window materials are playing a key role in energy efficient buildings. We’re pleased our Commercialization Program is helping another Oregon company solve complex challenges, and ultimately create jobs.”


About CSD Nano, Inc.

CSD Nano is an Oregon State University spin-out that develops and sells high performance, optical thin film technology to world-wide solar module, window and glass companies to improve their product performance.


About Oregon BEST

 The Oregon Built Environment & Sustainable Technologies Center (Oregon BEST) is the nexus for clean technology innovation, building capability, convening collaborations, and accelerating solutions to environmental challenges that deliver prosperity in all corners of Oregon. Oregon BEST brings together Oregon’s significant R&D strengths in clean technology to support the commercialization of new products and services. Since establishment in 2007, Oregon BEST’s 210-plus Member Faculty have generated more than $83 million in research revenue from federal, industry and foundation sources to Oregon. At its four partner universities (Oregon Institute of Technology, Oregon State University, Portland State University, and University of Oregon), Oregon BEST has established a network of seven shared-user research facilities. Oregon BEST Commercialization Grants are awarded to collaborations between entrepreneurs and Oregon BEST member faculty at partner universities. The first four Commercialization Grant awardees from 2011 have secured more than $1.5 million in follow-on funding, more than six times the total grant amount awarded.

600450 New Window Coating Could Save Millions in Indoor Lighting Costs
Date: 4 April 2013

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