Compared to predecessor technologies, triple glazed windows have greatly improved energy efficiency. The LAWIN (Large-Area Fluidic Windows) project aims to further improve upon that performance, however, by taking a novel approach. LAWIN’s researchers are developing windows that provide highly efficient solar energy harvesting and heat exchange through an active building envelope.
The target, essentially, is to enclose a building in a layer of liquid and control the temperature.
The core of the technology is structured glass embossed with microfluidic channels through which a functional fluid circulates. The fluid makes it possible to automatically adjust the incidence of light or to harvest exterior heat that is then transported to a heat pump. The current prototype uses aquaeous solutions, but any fluid that has high heat exchange properties and, eventually, adds further functionality such as polychromatism (where the fluid’s optical absorption properties depend on the magnitude of incident irradiation, or may be tuned electrically) could be used.
LAWIN’s large-area microfluidic windows and façade elements are based on four types of new materials: low-cost thin and strong cover glasses; microstructured rolled glasses of architectural quality; a glass-glass compound comprising microfluidic channels; and a heat storage liquid designed for transparency and/or active functionality in façade and window implementation. The project consortium aims to reduce embodied energy and CO2 to 0 for window surfaces after four months of usage. LAWIN also aims to improve thermal insulation figures for window surfaces by at least 20 % as well as to reduce the energy spent during the complete life cycle of a building by 10 %.
Integrating the technology into the conventional process used to manufacture triple glazed windows is a key objective.’
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