Smart Composite Material for Advanced Building Fenestration to Enhance Energy Efficiency

Lead Research Organisation: UNIVERSITY OF EXETER
Department Name: Engineering

Abstract

Energy consumed by buildings for heating, cooling, and lighting needs, accounts for more than 40% CO2 emissions. However, while keeping the thermal and visual comfort, a substantial portion of energy is lost due to our inability to control the ingress and egress of energy through transparent building envelope - mainly windows and facades. The UK government's ambitious target of reaching zero emission by 2050 cannot be achieved without controlling ingress and egress of energy through buildings. By 2050, 85% of the existing building stock will still be in use which indicates that retrofitting of building envelope is indispensable. Among the other building envelope, windows and facades are the least energy efficient but are easily replaceable. Glazing technology plays an important role in determining a building's energy performance, required to perform multiple roles of regulating heat transfer by conduction convection, solar and long wave radiation between internal and external environments while maintaining comfortable daylight environments by allowing the transmittance of natural daylight; reducing the need for supplementary electric lighting. The windows and facades also play an important aesthetic function by providing occupants a visual link to the external environment and influencing the appearance of buildings. Thus, developing new smart glazing technology for windows and facades to modulate the incoming and outgoing heat into indoor space to reduce building energy load, while at the same time providing visual comfort, is crucial.

The proposed project aims to undertake an ambitious innovative research program of developing new technology to significantly reduce energy demand in the built environment at an acceptable cost. The goal will be achieved by reducing heat loss, controlling incoming solar radiation to maximise solar gain, minimise heat loss in winter and reverse it by flipping windows in summer while ensuring the best natural lighting conditions with no glare.

The overarching goal of energy efficacy and visual comfort will be achieved by smart composite material in which each elements of composite will bring a unique property and contribute to enhance energy efficiency of windows and facades. In winter, the TIA will absorb external IR radiations and transfer heat to PCM for storage, which will be released back to the building, the TIM in composite will forbid heat loss through longwave thermal radiation and the IR reflective coating will prevent heat loss by reflecting IR back to room. In summer, the orientation will be flipped around to reduce cooling load. In the flipped case, heat gain by IR will be prevented by IR reflective layer while the TCM will regulator the transparency to control the indoor temperature constant. The multi-fold smart composite developed in this research program. This will enable advanced glazing technology to achieve U-values down to 0.4 W/m2K1 while maintaining comfortable daylight environments and reduce annual energy consumption by 30-40% for buildings. The outcome of this research will enable us to create technological pathways towards achieving energy positive buildings in the UK.

Planned Impact

The societal and environmental impacts of energy efficient buildings using cost effective and sustainable approaches has received national and global exposure and cannot be overstated. Recently, the demand for high performance glazing technology for windows to reduce building energy load and enhance building energy efficiency had been enormously increased due to changes in the Building Regulations. The solution for both new constructions and existing building renovations can be found by developing dynamic and smart technology which is capable of automatically and continuously responding to changing energy and light transmission values to external environmental conditions and users' requirements.

This innovative project will combine multilevel modelling and experimental formulation approaches to overcome the fundamental challenge of current energy loss through transparent component building to enhance building energy performance. The innovative project aims to systematically develop advanced glazing facades providing U-values down to 0.4 W/m2K, maintaining comfortable daylight while reducing annual net energy consumption by 30-40% for commercial and residential buildings in the UK. The proposed project fits well with CREDS themes of Materials and Products, Building & Energy and Decarbonisation of Heat.

The project and its outcomes will impact on: Industry, society; the economy and knowledge.

Industry: The main commercial beneficiaries of the project's outcomes will be construction-related industries which includes building designers, glazing/materials manufacturers and installation companies. The direct beneficiaries of the project outcomes are the industries participating in this project: NSG -Pilkington group Limited and Yorkshire Photonics Technology. Being one of the largest glass manufacturers, NSG will be benefited by the outcome of the multi-fold smart glazing unit applied into building sector, through the development of low U value system. The direct benefits and impacts of these companies are given in their support letters.

Government policy makers: The multi-fold smart composite based glazing technology will reduce heating, cooling and lighting energy consumption which will ultimately lead to the reduction in greenhouse gas and other emissions associated with energy supply to buildings. To achieve governments greenhouse emissions reduction target by 2050, policy maker needs to address the challenge of building energy loss and the project outcome will contribute to emissions reduction target by reducing building energy load.

The impact on Society: People living in energy efficient buildings will benefit from reduced energy costs, improved conditions and comfort. Health and wellbeing of the occupants will also be enhanced from the improved internal environmental conditions.

Economy: The impact on economy will be through the design, production and commercial exploitation of new smart glazing system. This impact will be affected through partnership with UK industrial collaborators, such as the project partners on this project, namely: Yorkshire Photonic Technology and NSG -Pilkington group Limited.

Knowledge: The impact will be achieved through the significant advances made in the project in: (i) new Knowledge of computational simulation and methodology of PCM, TIM, TIA and TCM. (ii) new scientific discoveries, understandings and methodologies for composition-controlled composite, (iii) new understandings of materials and optoelectronic and thermal properties and (iv) new understanding of smart glazing technology. The impact on people will be through the technical expertise developed by the research team during the project, the training received in societal and ethical issues and the transferable skills developed in collaboration and engagement with other academics, industrial partners and general public.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The thermal performance of window glazing requires improvement for a sustainable built environment at an acceptable cost. The current work demonstrates a multifold smart composite consisting of an optimized In2O3/ZnO-polymethyl methacrylate-paraffin composite to reduce heat exchange through the combined self-cleaning and energy-saving envelope of the smart built environment. This work has attempted to develop a smart composite coating that combines photosensitive metal oxide and phase change materials and investigate their thermal comfort performance as a glazed window. It is observed that the In2O3/ZnO (5 wt %) multifold composite film experienced better transmittance and thermal performance compared to its other wt % composite samples. Moreover, the multifold composite-coated glass integrated into a prototype glazed window was further investigated for its thermal performance, where a steady average indoor temperature of ~30 °C was achieved when the outside temperature reached ~55 °C, while maintaining good visibility. Interestingly, the transparency reached ~86% at 60 °C and exhibited a hydrophobic water contact angle (WCA) of ~138°. In contrast, a similar film exhibits ~64% transparency at 22 °C, where the WCA becomes moderately hydrophilic (~68°). Temperature dependency on transparency and wettability properties was examined for up to 60 cycles, resulting in excellent indoor thermal comfort. In addition, a thermal simulation study was executed for the smart multifold glazing composite. Moreover, this study offers dynamic glazing development options for energy saving in the smart built environment.
Exploitation Route The finding is key achievement and we will develop prototype based on this finding and develop collaboration with industry.
Sectors Education,Energy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

 
Description Smart windows will contribute to emissions reduction targets by reducing building energy loads. People living in energy-efficient buildings will also benefit from reduced energy costs, improved internal environmental conditions and comfort, and enhanced health and well-being. The primary commercial beneficiary of novel smart window technologies will be construction-related industries, including building designers, glazing/material manufacturers, and installation companies. The design, production and commercial exploitation of new glazing systems will have a positive economic impact. This is because developing advanced glazing technology can reduce a building's annual energy consumption by 30-40%. Our initial results promise potential energy saving using smart glazing, demonstrating the maximum temperature difference across the glass panes due to its high outdoor surface temperature consumption. These results signify that the composite-coated glass has enhanced thermal properties, making it suitable for building window applications and enhancing thermal comfort. Combined energy-saving and self-cleaning behaviour may manifest a combination of photocatalytic and self-cleaning coating that can reduce the cleaning cycles to save personnel costs. This synergistic composite coating can be recommended for photovoltaic (PV) glazing as a simplified, cost-effective solution for the dust element. The dust element substantially impacts reducing PV power and efficiency and can restrict unwanted thermal stress on the PV unit. Strategies for smartly integrating versatile metal oxides into PCMs have made significant advances because these designs combine the basic thermal storage features of PCMs and multiple other fascinating functions of metal oxides. Our results further promise a unique composite coating development with phase change material and transparent infrared absorber for a smart glazing headway. Besides employing simple formulation of material synthesis, ease of coating development, and other potential thermal and optical transmittance ability that turns from frosted to clear, operating using a simple ON-OFF system, switching instantly at the press of a button. Cellulose based hydrogel glazing potentially acts as a glare-free daylight option that can control the heat loss and heat gain according to the outdoor climate of the house. In addition, electrochromic-thermochromic regulated active control could be combined with our developed hydrogel windows for better light modulation and energy utilization. Cost-effective hydrogels can be integrated as a potential pathway to extend the facile laboratory-based process to large-scale, cost-effective industrial volume production as a suitable replacement for expensive vacuum glazing systems. Non-Academic Impact Accelerating our study will allow better predictions and interpretations, ultimately guiding experiments of an established method for a new, untested, positive real-world impact followed by a linear technology transfer to the industries. Smart glasses are perfect for classic installation and indoor installation - for the original, effective zoning of offices or living rooms. The switchable glass will significantly reduce the room's heat loss and the cost of lighting or air conditioning. In addition, smart glass is an excellent alternative to mechanical curtains, shading screens, or blinds. The result of this study will be valuable to engaging key stakeholders like industry practitioners and related software providers in developing better practices and tools for constraint management and look-ahead scheduling. It is wise to perform a techno-economics evaluation to obtain suitable glazing for a building. Environmental Impact If all the period homes in the country were updated with double glazing, we could save around £200 million. Not only that, but the amount of carbon emissions would be reduced by over 700kg per home if double glazing was installed - imagine having this kind of carbon footprint reduction across the entire country, and you have a considerable reduction overall, with the 2050 target more than achievable. Socio-Economic Impact Society is seeking a net-zero emission target. Renewable energy is the best-known way to achieve that goal. However, a promising complementary strategy is optimising the built environment. The built environment is everything we build as humans: the buildings we live in, our roads, bridges and transport systems, and the systems that provide us with water and electricity. Using appropriate building materials to minimise the industry's environmental impact has received increasing research attention. It also contributes to job creation and economic prosperity, even in less developed areas. For material scientists, it is challenging to develop sustainable materials that reconcile both human development and climate change mitigation, yet do not compromise people's well-being or environmental security.
First Year Of Impact 2021
Sector Education,Energy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description Round table Emission Zero policy review
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Contribution to a national consultation/review
 
Description Core Equipment Award 2022
Amount £866,726 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/X035069/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2022 
End 06/2024
 
Description Royce Materials Challenge Accelerator Programme
Amount £78,402 (GBP)
Funding ID MCAP072 
Organisation Henry Royce Institute 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2023 
End 05/2023
 
Description UK-Saudi Challenge Fund 2022
Amount £42,200 (GBP)
Organisation University of Exeter 
Department College of Engineering, Mathematics & Physical Sciences
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2022 
End 03/2023
 
Description Collaboration with BUILD SOLAR LTD 
Organisation Solar-Polar Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution discussing and exploring a new type of smart and more efficient glazing system for further exploitation.
Collaborator Contribution A new engagement with Build Solar Started to explore smart glazing technology for build environment.
Impact early stage
Start Year 2021
 
Description Collaboration with KFUPM Saudi Arabia 
Organisation King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals
Country Saudi Arabia 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Visiting mutual institutes, student exchanges,
Collaborator Contribution supported by instrumentation, writing joint articles, and proposals
Impact Laser-based solar cells scheme set up -that includes the concept of beam splitting to utilize maximum sunlight for producing high efficiency - prototype model. ? The outcome is the resolution to the final research question by presenting key findings from the research. Students identify the target audience for their Research Outcome and consider the value of their research to this audience. ? This should be for extensive studies of the proposed work that provide a concrete strength, adding dedicated research instrumentations and quality knowledge exchange. ? Participating/ Leading (if required) University's outreach activity programs like Return to Research, Royal Cornwall Show, Falmouth Science Festival, ECR Festival etc. ? Continue to build transformative partnerships that build on our traditional strengths and explore new domains and translational opportunities at the boundaries of our current areas of expertise - Publications/Patents
Start Year 2022
 
Description 2. Oral presentation entitled "Semi-switchable Thermochromic Mixed Halide Hybrid Perovskite Nanorods for Glazing Integration" by Anurag Roy on Third Indian Materials Conclave and 32nd Annual General Meeting of Materials Research Society of India, organized by IIT Madras, December 20-23, 2021. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Oral presentation entitled "Semi-switchable Thermochromic Mixed Halide Hybrid Perovskite Nanorods for Glazing Integration
>100 participants were attended
Knowledge exchange and mutual discussion was made regarding the importance of glazing and related composite materials
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL http://www.mrsi.org.in/agm2021
 
Description Falmouth Festival - open science exhibition from University of Exeter - represented our prototype model an importance of smart glazing on a open public platform 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Sharing glazing research importance and smart glazing solution towards net-zero achievement in layman English on Falmouth Market Street.
Approx. 100 people had attended periodically within 3 hours slot.
I represented the solar energy research group from the University of Exeter
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Invited Lecture 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Functional Nanomaterials for Solar Induced Translational Materials Research at the Second International Web Conference on Advanced Material Science & Nanotechnology (2nd NANOMAT-2021) from 23rd - 25th November 2021 at Department of Physics, Vinayak Vidnyan Mahavidyalaya, Nandgaon Khandeshwar, Dist. Amravati, Maharashtra, India.

200+ attended
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://sites.google.com/view/2nanomat-2021
 
Description Invited Talk on Supergen Net Zero Conference, Early Career Researcher Forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Supergen Net Zero Conference, Early Career Researcher Forum, Flash Talk on Solar Energy for Clean Energy Transition, September 1-3, U.K.
around 50 people attended
This program was held under COP26 - the UN Climate Change Conference - the EPSRC-funded Supergen (Sustainable Power Generation and Supply) programme
Represented the theme called Securing a global transition to clean energy
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.supersolar-hub.org/2021/08/09/early-career-researcher-forum-at-the-supergen-net-zero-con...
 
Description Keynote speaker; 1st International Conference Trends and Research in Chemistry (TRIC-2022) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact TRIC-2022 aim was a platform for scholars to learn from the valuable experience of leading scientists from all over the world in various areas of martial and Chemistry. The conference includes plenary talks, keynote addresses, invited talks and oral presentation. The conference provides a platform for academicians, practitioners and students for academic conversations and scholarly dialogues. Twenty-four keynote speakers participated from United States, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Australia, Malaysia, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, China and Pakistan. There were parallel sessions in which around forty researchers presented their research vision and outcomes. Rapidly developing covid-19 pandemic led to organize the conference virtually. Conference was be broadcasted live on internet via Google meet as well as on Facebook and YouTube. This international conference sparked questions and discussion afterwards on design and development of energy materials for improve building energy efficiency.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Pint of Science 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 59 people registred and I am willing to discuss my research findings with people in their local pubs, bar, cafe, or public space.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
URL https://pintofscience.com/
 
Description Plenary talk to (AN ONLINE) International Conference on Applied Chemistry (ICAC - 2021) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact ICAC 2021 was an important gathering organized by the Department of Applied Chemistry, Government College University Faisalabad, Pakistan providing a podium for all chemists and material professionals. The main objective of the Applied Chemistry Conference is to supply a medium for international researchers from various chemistry areas, including Material Chemistry, Energy materials, Physical Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, gathered for evaluation of recent data and to share the latest evaluation regarding all aspects of material science and chemistry. Around 100 researcher including academics, postdocs, ECRs and Ph D and undergraduate students has this international conference which sparked questions and discussion afterwards, and the Department of Applied Chemistry reported increased interest in related design and development of energy materials for improve building energy efficiency.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Royal Society of Chemistry Brexit Update Webinar - Chemicals Regulation" organized by Royal Society of Chemistry on November 26, 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact around 50 international people attended on Chemicals Regulation and EU Research and Innovation Funding. In each of the 30-minute webinars, RSC policy staff will summarise the latest information surrounding the topic and provide signposting to the relevant Government guidance to help individuals and organisations
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.rsc.org/events/detail/45721/rsc-brexit-webinar-chemicals-regulation
 
Description Selected for the Entrepreneurial Researcher Programme-2021 (Cohort 3) of the University of Exeter 2021 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Develop your entrepreneurial competencies.
Explore commercialization routes of our glazing and related composite development ideas
Connect with like-minded colleagues who share similar ambitions.
Engage and test your ideas with prospective customers, users, and key stakeholders during a period of market exploration.
Inform your future research focus, design, and impact.
Access seed funding to develop and support promising commercial opportunities.
Introduce you to SETsquared Exeter's support services: part of the world's #1 University business incubator.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021