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Green Smart Magazine : GreenSmart 2010
Imagine a world where windows don't simply open and shut, but become mini power plants able to generate their own electricity. It sounds advanced, but the technology of photovoltaic windows is developing in Switzerland and other areas around the world. Tracey Gramlick, executive director of the Australian Window Association (AWA), explains that the technology is similar to solar panels used for heating and cooling. 'You need a separate circuit where the cells rely on an electrolytic process between two panes of glass. The technology is on the inside of the glass and is completely see- through,' she says. Basically, the solar cells contain titanium dioxide coated in a dye that increases light absorption. As the glass captures the solar energy, it can be used to power the house and minimise overheating, and in turn reduce the need for cooling. Professor John Bell from the Queensland University of Technology has joined forces Photovoltaic window film is just around the corner and it has huge potential to capture solar energy. nano-technology Story > Annie Reid newtechnology on the cutting edge coatings explained Window film -- Is used to reject the sun and is well suited for hotter climates. First introduced to Australia in 1961, it is applied directly to the inside of the window and is available in a variety of forms, including solar films, safety films and decorative films. In most cases window film pays for itself within a number of years by lowering energy bills -- and reduces the need for airconditioning by as much as 30 per cent. Low E coatings -- Low emittance coatings suppress radiation heat transfer, reduce solar gain and are ideal for colder climates. Although often used in conjunction with double glazing, Low E is generally less expensive and also applied to the window internally. A window with a Low E coat will sometimes eliminate the need for wide eaves or shading systems. 76 greensmart 2010 Photo courtesy Superior Windows with the Australian company Dyesol to develop the sophisticated technology. Although the technology in Australia is still three to five years away from being available, he says there is no reason why it shouldn't work here. 'We have lots of sun, so it has real potential to make a significant impact. ' What's available now? Rob Hamilton, president of the Window Film Association of Australia and New Zealand (WFAANZ), explains that two of the current key technologies available -- window films and Low E coatings -- are recognised for their own impact on the thermal performance of a house. As far as Rob sees it, the great benefit of the technology is its ability to be retrofitted. Both technologies can be easily retrofitted to an existing house, he says, but there are limitations. Currently, the only Low E coatings available for retrofitting are tinted (which cut out 78 per cent of light); however, it can be factory-made as a clear coating.