Climate-neutral living step closer with smart energy-efficient windows

Climate-neutral living step closer with smart energy-efficient windows

October 11, 2023

Pilot demonstration line opened for industrial-scale application

Tuesday 10 October marked a major step towards a more sustainable future. The official opening of the ‘pilot demonstration line’ for smart windows at Brightlands Materials Center, a research collaboration between TNO and the province of Limburg, is a milestone in energy-efficient living.

These windows contain a transparent thermochromic coating, which automatically switches between letting and blocking solar heat above a certain temperature. This keeps solar heat out in summer and lets it in in winter. The result? Reduced energy consumption, lower heating and cooling costs, and a cleaner planet. With this demonstration line, Brightlands Materials Center is scaling up development to further test the application of the smart thermochromic windows for different types of buildings.

This initiative shows that innovation is the key to a more sustainable future. The built environment in the Netherlands currently contributes to 40 per cent of energy consumption and almost a third of CO2 emissions. Smart windows from offer a solution accessible to all.

Thermochromic coating
The active material in the smart window is thermochrome. This means that at a certain temperature, its optical properties change. Brightlands Materials Center and partners developed the material for good transparency and with a switching temperature of around 20°C, where only the transparency for infrared light changes. This optimises the window to save as much energy as possible while remaining transparent to the human eye. Switching occurs autonomously and is an intrinsic property of the coated glass, so the window can be installed in ordinary window frames, without special installation requirements.

Lower energy bills and less CO2
Previous lab tests show that using this coating can lead to lower energy consumption compared to current standard HR++ glass. These calculations show savings of around 500 euros and 400 kg of CO2 emissions per average home per year in the Netherlands. An average household is expected to recoup the investment in five to seven years.

Demonstration line
The functioning of the coating has now been demonstrated, but the process is not yet ready for deployment in large-scale production; that is what the demonstration line is for. This line is equipped with technology that industry also uses and includes a car wash, coating machine and high-tech oven. The next goal is to apply the coating in an industrially relevant way to a 1 by 1 metre glass surface.

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