The idea of turning whole buildings into envelopes to create power may sound almost too good to be true, but it is getting closer to becoming a reality.
The technology has a name: SolarWindow, which makes it possible to generate electricity on see-thru glass windows and is being developed by New Energy Technologies. The company is based in Columbia, Maryland, and has been working to develop and promote its technology.
The latest news coming from New Energy regarding SolarWindow is that the company’s researchers have achieved a research breakthrough which the company says “could result in the replacement of materials prone to breakdown and degradation”.
“Early-on, we focused on developing electricity-generating coatings which remain transparent and can be applied onto glass surfaces at room-temperature. These goals were successfully achieved by our researchers and publicly demonstrated late last year,” explained Mr. John A. Conklin, President and CEO of New Energy Technologies. “This year, our sights are set on commercial product development targets, such as power output, efficiency, durability, reliability, cost, and manufacturability.”
The company says its researchers are also working to replace “brittle and expensive” materials with easier to handle and low-cost liquid compounds. These replacement compounds support the movement of electrons, which the company says is one of the most important functions for generating electricity on glass surfaces of SolarWindow.
During tests the compounds successfully mobilized the electrons necessary for generating electricity on prototypes. The solution-based compounds were produced without expensive starting materials and scientists have discovered methods that allow for high reproducibility.
Another important aspect is that the liquid compounds currently being developed remain see-thru, are easy to handle, and can be applied at room temperature and without the use of high-vacuum, pre-requisites for commercial manufacturing.
“We are one step closer to commercialization of our SolarWindow technology,” said Mr. Conklin.
Article by Antonio Pasolini, a Brazilian writer and video art curator based in London, UK. He holds a BA in journalism and an MA in film and television.