This clear window coating could cool buildings without using energy

Scientists have used advanced computer technology and AI to design a smart window coating that lowers the temperature inside buildings, thereby saving a lot of cooling energy.

About 15% of the world’s energy consumption comes from heating, which makes it even hotter, especially in extreme weather conditions.

Ultraviolet rays and near-infrared light are the parts of the solar spectrum that pass through window glass to heat a closed room.

If the window is covered and if that window is illuminated “the heat from the surface of the window at a wavelength that travels through the air to the outside air,” and can reduce the use of energy from freezing, according to the American Chemical Society.

That, without blocking the view from the window, seems like a big ask. But researchers from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and Kyung Hee University in Seoul were still interested.

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According to their new paper, “High-Performance Transparent Radiative Cooler Designed by Quantum Computing” in ACS Energy Lettersa scientific journal published by the American Chemical Society, their successful design of a transparent window coating, “transparent refrigerant” (TRC).

Image: Adapted from ACS Energy Letters 2022, DOI: 10.1021/acsenergylett.2c01969

Here’s what they do and how it goes:

The team created computer models of TRCs consisting of different thin layers of common materials such as carbon dioxide, silicon nitride, aluminum oxide or titanium dioxide on a glass substrate, filled with polydimethylsiloxane film. They optimized the type, order, and combination of layers using an intersectional approach guided by machine learning and quantum computing, which stores data using subatomic particles. This computer method is faster and more efficient than conventional computers because it can test all combinations efficiently in a fraction of a second. This resulted in a coating design that, when manufactured, beat the performance of conventionally manufactured TRCs in addition to being one of the best heat-reducing glasses on the market.

ACS Energy Lett. 2022, 7, XXX, 4134-4141

The researchers noted that the average annual energy savings across the major US cities surveyed – see bar graphs above – was 50 MJ/m2 if TRC is used in windows. In cities with hot, dry climates, such as Phoenix, TRC can save 86.3 MJ/m2 per year, or 31.1% of cooling energy consumption when conventional windows are used.

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They have the same statistics for selected cities around the world. While buildings in all cities will benefit, those in tropical regions will experience more cooling.

According to the researchers the transparent window coating can be used not only for industrial windows but also for car windows.

There is no indication of commercial synthesis in the study, but the researchers write that the film “can be scaled up for practical applications because their fabrication can be done using state-of-the-art reduction techniques.” In other words, that is the process of forming and depositing thin film coatings on a substrate material. It’s a big construction project.

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You can read the full study here.

Read more: Windows giant Andersen leads $30M funding for solar window company

Photo: “Morning Glow ~ Explore #420” by Theen … licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.


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