Have you ever been inside a building with impressive architecture and witnessed the clear, bright sunlight streaming through the windows early in the morning? If you return to the same spot a few hours later, maybe when the sun is at its zenith, then the mood has drastically changed as the environment has become stiflingly hot and the heat is oppressive! It’s almost as if the room needs blackout blinds.
At Harvard university in the US, in a bid to lower their air-conditioning bills but keep their windows open, researchers have developed self-cooling windows. This new technology lets in the light but also ensures that the heat does not transfer with it.
Thanks to the research done at Harvard University, whose scientific team and brilliant minds have used a bioinspired microfluidic circulatory system to develop these self-cooling windows. This system has been likened somewhat to the same bodily functions found in animals and humans, whereby a network of tiny blood vessels near the surface of our skin dilate when we are hot, this transfers heat from our body into the surrounding air through our skin.
The self-cooling windows also feature micro-thin channels near the “skin” of the window in which liquid water can also be pumped through to help the cooling process. In fact, this particular circulatory system can also be used on rooftop solar panels, which are obviously exposed to the sun for a large period of time, helping them cool down, which in turn will help them generate more efficiently.
Currently, the results of these experiments with the self-cooling window, has found that approximately 165ml of water is enough to cool a full-sized window pane by 8C (14F). The researchers are now planning to collaborate with architecture researchers to find out just how much energy could be saved if these self cooling windows were to be incorporated into a full-sized building.
[Image via patrizioradaelli]