Team Creates Inexpensive Glass Coating for Buildings

June 21, 2016 | Comments

While aesthetically pleasing, buildings with glass façades are highly energy-intensive as they require more air-conditioning to regulate interior temperatures. These energy requirements are especially crucial in hot countries such as the UAE, where air-conditioning consumes up to 75 percent of the country’s electrical grid output.

By optimizing the type of glazing applied to the glass, a building’s cooling load can be reduced by an upwards of 20 percent. This is significant reduction, considering it only requires improvements to one aspect of the building.

The challenge that comes with glazing the glass windows of high rises is that most buyers have little tolerance for any process that impacts the building’s aesthetics. Some heat-blocking coatings result in a brown or reddish tint, which is often considered to be much less desirable than the conventional colorless appearance.

Blue modern office skyscraper on sky

Modern office sky scrapers typically have glass façades.

In response to the growing push for greener, less energy-intensive buildings, Adel Gougam and his team of researchers from the Masdar Institute in Abu Dhabi, UAE, have developed a glass coating that can significantly reduce the amount of heat penetrating the glass, while not compromising cost and appearance.


Achieving High Selectivity with Metallic Oxides

The ultimate goal of a glass coating is to achieve selectivity – a measurement of how well a coating can reflect heat but let in sunlight.

Conventional coatings are usually comprised of expensive silver nanolayers. Manufacturers achieve a high level of selectivity by sandwiching these coatings between multiple layers of material that vary in thickness and composition. These are all stacked on top of a glass pane.

Gougam and his team aimed to develop something different: an inexpensive glass coating made of a single layer of metallic oxide material.

“[This material] can block heat at nearly the same rate as the highest performing multi-layered coatings currently on the market, while minimizing manufacturing costs,” said Gougam.

The manner in which conventional silver nanolayer coatings are applied to a pane of glass is an expensive and rigorous process. It typically involves a physical vapor deposition technique that must be applied several times for multiple layers.

The material used by Gougam’s team will lower manufacturing costs by avoiding the need to repeat the vapour deposition process several times. The research team claims that the metal oxide base will still let in ample amounts of sunlight while blocking solar infrared radiation.

The team plans to continue studying this material to determine how they can further optimize the metal oxide coating. The next steps involve improving the design so that it achieves the same level of selectivity on a larger glass pane, and conducting environmental tests to ensure it can perform to its expectations in the UAE climate.

For more information, see the website of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology.


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