Intelligent façades generating electricity, heat and algae biomass

December 22, 2014

(Jena/Germany) Windows that change their light permeability at the touch of a button, façades, whose color can be changed according to the sunlight, façades and window parts in which transparent photovoltaic modules are integrated or in which microalgae are being bred to provide the house with its own biofuel: This is what the buildings of the future could feature, or at least something similar. "Many of these ideas are certainly within imagination end even technological feasibility, today, in particular within the field of façades which may adapt to their environment and thus improve the energy efficiency of modern buildings," states Prof. Dr.-Ing. Lothar Wondraczek from Friedrich Schiller University in Jena (Germany). "But only a fraction of this potential has been tackled so far, as the relevant materials and production processes are still missing," he further explains.

A new international research effort, coordinated by Jena's materials scientist Lothar Wondraczek, is aiming to change this. In the project 'Large-Area Fluidic Windows -- LaWin' the scientists intend to develop functional façades and window modules, together with an integrated production process to achieve an as to yet unmatched readiness to market. 'This requires close collaboration of architects, materials researchers, and civil and construction engineers. That is why we established a broad, interdisciplinary consortium.' All in all, 14 participants take part in the 'LaWin'.-project: Apart from the academic partners at Jena University, Weimar University, Beuth University of Applied Sciences, eleven industrial corporations from Germany, Austria, Belgium and the Czech Republic are involved. Over the coming 3 years, the European Commission supports the project with about 6 Million Euro within the European framework program 'Horizon 2020'. The partaking industrial partners will be adding another 2.1 Million Euro to that.

In Jena the project is located at the "Center for Energy and Environmental Chemistry" (CEEC). There, Prof. Wondraczek and his team will work on new glass modules for building façades, which consist of two joint glass layers: one layer made from a very thin and high strength cover glass and one layer of structured glass.

"This structured glass contains microfluidic channels through which a functional fluid circulates. As an example, this liquid will make it possible to automatically adjust the incidence of light or to harvest exterior heat which will then be transported to a heat pump," Wondraczek explains. The scientists will conduct detailed tests of such façade and window modules to optimize the materials and their functional interaction. Therefore, 'LaWin' takes will take another step forward, i. e., to outside of the laboratory: Based on the results of their laboratory findings, the scientists plan to implement the innovative façades with reference buildings in order to test them under 'real' conditions. "The challenge lies in the large size", Wondraczek points out. "As of today, there is no production process for such large-sized glass sheet with integrated micro structures. Moreover, the new glass façades have to be able to be integrated into conventional window and façade systems." They also have to be cost-effective. After all, a third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the EU and 40 percent of the energy consumption are due to the heating, cooling, air conditioning and lighting of buildings. Investments in energy efficient buildings are hence the most important levers to significantly reduce the carbon dioxide emissions and to reach the climate goals. "This is given by the laws of thermodynamics: To save and to efficiently use energy is always more beneficial than to generate it from whichever source," the Jena materials scientist stresses. The topical area of 'energy efficient buildings' is therefore one of eight strategic key areas in which the European commission's Public-Private-Partnership (PPP)-Initiative sees important possibilities for a sustainable reinforcement of the European innovation and industrial leadership in the global competition.
-end-
Contact:

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Lothar Wondraczek
Otto Schott Institute of Materials Research
Friedrich Schiller University of Jena
Fraunhoferstr. 6
07743 Jena
Germany
Phone: +049 (0)3641 948504
Email: lothar.wondraczek[at]uni-jena.de

Friedrich-Schiller-Universitaet Jena

Related Energy Articles from Brightsurf:

Energy System 2050: solutions for the energy transition
To contribute to global climate protection, Germany has to rapidly and comprehensively minimize the use of fossil energy sources and to transform the energy system accordingly.

Cellular energy audit reveals energy producers and consumers
Researchers at Gladstone Institutes have performed a massive and detailed cellular energy audit; they analyzed every gene in the human genome to identify those that drive energy production or energy consumption.

First measurement of electron energy distributions, could enable sustainable energy technologies
To answer a question crucial to technologies such as energy conversion, a team of researchers at the University of Michigan, Purdue University and the University of Liverpool in the UK have figured out a way to measure how many 'hot charge carriers' -- for example, electrons with extra energy -- are present in a metal nanostructure.

Mandatory building energy audits alone do not overcome barriers to energy efficiency
A pioneering law may be insufficient to incentivize significant energy use reductions in residential and office buildings, a new study finds.

Scientists: Estonia has the most energy efficient new nearly zero energy buildings
A recent study carried out by an international group of building scientists showed that Estonia is among the countries with the most energy efficient buildings in Europe.

Mapping the energy transport mechanism of chalcogenide perovskite for solar energy use
Researchers from Lehigh University have, for the first time, revealed first-hand knowledge about the fundamental energy carrier properties of chalcogenide perovskite CaZrSe3, important for potential solar energy use.

Harvesting energy from walking human body Lightweight smart materials-based energy harvester develop
A research team led by Professor Wei-Hsin Liao from the Department of Mechanical and Automation Engineering, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has developed a lightweight smart materials-based energy harvester for scavenging energy from human motion, generating inexhaustible and sustainable power supply just from walking.

How much energy do we really need?
Two fundamental goals of humanity are to eradicate poverty and reduce climate change, and it is critical that the world knows whether achieving these goals will involve trade-offs.

New discipline proposed: Macro-energy systems -- the science of the energy transition
In a perspective published in Joule on Aug. 14, a group of researchers led by Stanford University propose a new academic discipline, 'macro-energy systems,' as the science of the energy transition.

How much energy storage costs must fall to reach renewable energy's full potential
The cost of energy storage will be critical in determining how much renewable energy can contribute to the decarbonization of electricity.

Read More: Energy News and Energy Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.