Solar Powered Windows Are Here
Nature is completely sustainable on its own; it always has been. Everything that nature takes away is replaced with something else, and the cycles of natural life continues to work flawlessly.
This is the reason human beings have been trying so hard to harness the power of nature, especially since we have had such an adverse effect on the earth, thanks to our continuous thirst for progress without regard for the health of our planet. Trying to make up for our mistakes, we have been developing technologies that can help us reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and increase our use of renewable energy.
Chief amongst these technologies is the gain of electricity from the sun. The sun is an inexhaustible source of energy, and it makes a lot of sense to use that energy for our good. Adding to the long list of solar powered technologies, two groups, one from the US and the other from Italy, have created solar powered windows that look like they are here to stay.
From Ultraviolet to Electric
Having designed a completely clear and transparent glass window that converts the sun’s ultraviolet energy into electricity, a team of 8 students from Western Washington University have redefined how solar-powered windows look and function. Usually, such designs lead to a distortion of the colors that are visible through the window, but not this one.
The team has received a grant of $75,000 from the US Environmental Protection Agency for the development of their Smart Solar Window, as it’s called. The makers of this solar powered window say that it can reduce a building’s temperature control costs by 30%. The electricity is used to automatically open and close the windows in order to help with cooling.
From Window to Electric Generator
The second design comes from a research team at the University of Milan-Bicocca in Italy. The team has been successful in creating a coating of quantum dots that is embedded in the window. These particles, which are extremely small in size, are then dispersed to gain maximum exposure from the sun. The light, or energy, absorbed by the coating is then guided to a solar cell after being remitted at the infrared wavelength.
In simple words, what this means is that the window turns into a complete electric generator. It can not only power itself but also other appliances, including a room’s air conditioning system. The team says that the windows have the potential to power multiple buildings. On top of that, this design is also transparent and doesn’t lead to a distortion in visible colors.
This technology is very impressive once we start to think how it can affect our urban fabric. If we could make it mainstream and cover the facades of buildings with such windows, we could easily head towards our goal of achieving zero energy buildings.
While there are many ways to harness the power of the sun, solar powered windows seem like they are definitely here to stay. The reason is that using typical solar panels on the roofs is not feasible or even possible in many scenarios. Not to mention that they can ruin a building’s design to a large extent. Embedding all of that potential, and even more, into a solar powered window is a novel idea. Now that these windows are finally here, we can’t wait to see how they'll positively affect our aim of building sustainable communities.