OptiGas’ tunable efficient gas filling process earns patent

Integrated Automation Systems has been granted a US patent for its OptiGas method, which first fills an interpane space with argon followed by a precise dose of krypton.

The intelligent and computer controlled process allows individual IG units to be custom engineered to reach optimal U-values.  

“The timing is pertinent given the new Energy Star and other standards we’re all going to have to meet,” said Mike McHugh, president of OptiGas/Integrated Automation Systems. “With krypton now at much more affordable, the OptiGas system provides window producers a tool to lower u-values by a full point in two pane units and three points in triples at a competitive or lower cost per point when compared to existing options.”

The OptiGas process is unique because it can fill consecutive units with different proportions of argon and krypton without setup changes or wasting any krypton, McHugh said.

“Instead of going to a warmer edge spacer or a more expensive low-e coating, you can cost-effectively and readily improve the thermal performance of your units without reducing light transmission or rejecting free energy from the sun,” he said.

“Because you can easily and precisely tune gas mix and thermal performance of each unit with OptiGas, you have tremendous flexibility to meet changing consumer demands and regulatory requirements. For example, if a current product misses your target by a couple thousandths of a point, with OptiGas you can get there with as little as 20 percent krypton.”

The patent, which makes 20 patentable claims, is for 20 years, with McHugh as the inventor of record. OptiGas systems have been available for three years and a second generation filling system is under development.

Reduced demand for krypton in other industries has resulted in dramatically lower prices that should be stable for the next several years, McHugh said suppliers are telling him. That’s to the advantage of IG makers.

“With OptiGas, you can easily use controlled amounts of krypton to round down to the next lowest or targeted U-value and achieve R-5 or U-value 0.27 double pane at the lowest possible cost,” he said.

The benefits of the OptiGas process listed in the patent include that it improves efficiency, reduces waste of insulating gases, decreases production time and labor for gas filling, increases automation and capacity of the gas filling process and improves the monitoring and verification of the gas filling process all with efficient use of floor space.

The two-gas method along with the OptiGas filling location and process work so essentially no krypton is lost during filling. OptiGas systems also provide statistical verification of the thermal performance of filled IG units.

“With OptiGas, when a customer asks whether gas is really in their windows and doors, you know the answer,” said McHugh. “And none of the krypton was left on your production floor. Even at today’s prices, you come out ahead when there is no waste.”

OptiGas was recognized as the 2011 Crystal Achievement Award winner by Window and Door magazine for the most innovative machine for IG production and glazing.

Integrated Automation Systems/OptiGas offers a complete range of advanced and affordable gas filling and testing solutions for any operations at all production volumes. In addition to developing the award-winning FastGas, OptiGas and ThermalCHECK systems, the company also sells and supports Helantec GmBH gas filling and testing equipment in North America. The company is based in Lordstown, Ohio, and can be found online at www.optigas.com.

600450 OptiGas’ tunable efficient gas filling process earns patent glassonweb.com

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