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Fluid windows could save incredible amounts of energy in large buildings

The larger the dimensions of the buildings, the more funds are needed to provide them with heat and light. Maintaining air conditioning systems also requires substantial costs. According to scientists from the University of Toronto, in the future it will be possible to reduce these costs through the use of “smart” materials. They managed to develop a unique technology of “liquid” windows, which they were inspired by observations of wildlife.

Thoughts on creating innovative optical systems began to arise among Canadian researchers after they examined in detail the mechanism for changing the color and skin tone in some species of living beings. It turned out that over the long millions of years of evolution, octopuses and crabs “learned” to scatter and collect pigment granules, thus controlling the color scheme of their outer covers. A similar principle has been used by the team in optical systems, which can be a good solution for energy saving and comfort in rooms.

The team developed an optical system of layers of glass with thin channels for pumping fluid. By adding special particles and pigments to it, you can control the properties of its transparency. For example, you can ensure that only visible light penetrates inside, and infrared waves are delayed. Such a solution will reduce the cost of cooling and lighting in the summer, and for winter the system can be configured so that heat waves also penetrate through the window.

Scientists point out that several layers with different properties can be combined in stacks to achieve greater efficiency. Preliminary computer simulations have shown that just one layer providing infrared light control saves 25% of energy in cooling a room. The second layer, which regulates the intensity of the visible part of the light, brings the efficiency up to a fantastic 50%. In the future, such optical systems can be completely equipped with building facades – for this, inexpensive and non-toxic materials can be selected.


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