‘Super window’ could save $10 billion annually in energy costs

Posted: June 10, 2018 by oldbrew in Energy, innovation, News

London’s ‘Gherkin’ [image credit: BBC]


The idea here is that a new type of triple-glazed window would be of identical width and similar weight to an equivalent double-glazed one, thus minimizing compatibility issues.

About $20 billion worth of energy leaks out of windows in the United States each winter—and that’s with double-paned insulating windows installed on a majority of buildings, says TechXplore.

The Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) is now working with manufacturers to bring to market a “super window” that is at least twice as insulating as 99 percent of the windows for sale today and will be ready to achieve mass-market status.

The “thin triple” super window design doubles the thermal performance of current Energy Star-rated double-glazed windows and is seven times more insulating than a single-glazed window.

Berkeley Lab scientists have built and tested prototypes in the lab and are now working with Andersen Corporation, the largest window and door manufacturer in the country, and separately with Alpen High Performance Products, which specializes in energy-efficient doors and windows. Both efforts are looking to build and test enhanced prototypes suitable for large-scale manufacture.

“Our approach is to attack the problem from two sides: to develop both ‘market pull’ and ‘technology push’ forces,” said Berkeley Lab researcher Steve Selkowitz, one of the inventors of the super window concept. “We are working with manufacturers to assist them with their technology challenges while also working with Energy Star, supply-chain companies, and utilities, which can offer rebates and incentives for consumer purchase. Our role is to be a catalyst in facilitating technological innovation and an evangelist in promoting DOE’s energy-efficiency mission.”

Berkeley Lab has a long history of innovation in green building technologies; for example, it recently demonstrated the use of controlled lighting and shading to save energy and is working to make net-zero energy homes a reality. Its work on high-performance windows dates back to the late 1970s when the oil crisis catalyzed new ways to save energy. Berkeley Lab researchers at the time provided the technical support for a brand-new product—a low-emissivity (or low-e) window coating that helps to block long-wave infrared rays—to reach mass-market status. Low-e coatings have gone on to save the country billions of dollars in energy costs.

Selkowitz believes the new thin triple super window could save even more. Current double-glazed windows consist of two layers of glass with a low-e coating and argon gas in the gap between the glass layers to further reduce heat transfer. The innovation of the Berkeley Lab super window is threefold: It inserts a third layer of very thin glass sandwiched between the two layers of a double-glazed window, adds a second low-e coating, and replaces the argon gas with krypton gas, which is much more insulating than argon in the very narrow space between the panes.

While there are other triple-glazed windows on the market, the virtue of this one is that it is the same width and virtually the same weight as existing double-glazed windows. This avoids having to redesign the window sash and frame, which would pose a significant cost obstacle to market penetration.

Continued here.

Short promo video here.

Comments
  1. Bitter@twisted says:

    Sounds quite reasonable.
    Makes a change from the usual cr@p that trickles out of Berkeley.

  2. Jim says:

    Well that’s stupid! If they just filled the gap of the double-paned windows with CO2 we could warm all our houses with ambient sunlight alone. Jeez!

  3. Adam Gallon says:

    Well, at Everest have managed to produce triple glazing, that fits fine into our standard frame, just with a thinner bead. A+21 WER rating.

  4. Kelvin Vaughan says:

    I have argon filled windows or so they are supposed to be. How would anyone know if the manufacturer left the argon out to save money. There are no published performance tests.

  5. JB says:

    Seven times better than single pane is R7. But they’re claiming R8-10. While a 2X improvement over double-pane (and likely much more expensive), shuttering the windows from the inside would be a much more effective solution. Unless the glass tower is higher than surrounding edifices, there’s no real view to be had, and natural lighting can be brought in far more efficiently without windows. Some innovation is not useful as it attempts to fix a bad idea that should be abandoned.

  6. Gamecock says:

    Window coatings work just fine.

    http://www.efficientwindows.org/lowe.php

    ‘Berkeley Lab researchers at the time provided the technical support for a brand-new product—a low-emissivity (or low-e) window coating that helps to block long-wave infrared rays—to reach mass-market status. Low-e coatings have gone on to save the country billions of dollars in energy costs.

    Selkowitz believes the new thin triple super window could save even more.’

    More what? The ‘problem’ is 96% solved; has been for decades.

  7. Brin says:

    I wonder how the use of krypton would change costs. I mean, argon is relatively cheap: it makes up nearly 1% of the air we breath, after all. But krypton is a trace gas. A quick check at wiki shows it only makes up 0.000114% of the atmosphere. That is about 8000x less common. I can only think that extracting enough krypton for millions of windows would be much more expensive than extracting a similar amount of argon.

  8. ivan says:

    Whoppy do, the researchers have re-invented the the triple glazed window panel for green virtue signallers all without saying what the cost of changeover is /sarc.

    Since this is in the US where they ignore what is available in other parts of the world it is not surprising they missed the fact that such panels are ‘off the shelf’ items in building suppliers in other countries. I suppose their justification is to show how good they are and so stave off the possibility of redundancies when the DoE starts shedding the dead wood.

  9. A C Osborn says:

    It doesn’t help much if you actually like “fresh air” and have a window open though.

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