Every day, the sun bathes the planet in energy--free of charge--yet few systems can take advantage of that source for both heating and cooling. Now, researchers are making progress on a thin-film technology that adheres both solar cells and heat pumps onto surfaces, ultimately turning walls, windows, and maybe even soda bottles into climate control systems.
On July 12, 2006, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) researcher Steven Van Dessel and his colleagues will announce their most recent progress--including a computer model to help them simulate the climate within their test structure atop the RPI Student Union--at the Solar 2006 Conference in Denver, Colo.
For 4 years, the researchers have been working on their prototype Active Building Envelope (ABE) system. Comprised of solar panels, solid-state, thermoelectric heat pumps and a storage device to provide energy on rainy days (literally), the ABE system accomplishes the jobs of both cooling and heating, yet operates silently with no moving parts. NSF is supporting the team to determine if a microscale version of the technology will function effectively.
According to Van Dessel, thin-film advances could potentially lead to functional thermal coatings composed of transparent ABE systems. Such systems might vastly improve the efficiency of temperature-control systems.
"The ease of application would make it possible to seamlessly attach the system to various building surfaces," he added, "possibly rendering conventional air conditioning and heating equipment obsolete."
Van Dessel hopes a thin-film version of the ABE system will see uses in a range of industries, from aerospace--in advanced thermal control systems in future space missions--to the automotive industry, where it could be applied to windshields and sun roofs, giving them the ability to heat or cool a car's interior.
"It also may be possible to one day use the ABE system to create packaging materials for thermal control," he added, "which could lead to things like self-cooling soda bottles."
Josh Chamot | Source: EurekAlert!
Further information: www.nsf.gov
More articles from Materials Sciences:
Graphene sees the light
20.12.2013 | The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)
A Micro-Muscular Break Through
20.12.2013 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Swimming microengines made from platinum and iron are highly efficient in removing organic pollutants from water using hydrogen peroxide.
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart have developed a new method for the active degradation of organic pollutants in solution by using swimming microengines.
The mobile microcleaners consist of an outer iron and an inner platinum layer, thereby combining two functionalities. Hydrogen peroxide, which must be ...
A 12-year study of massive stars has reaffirmed that our Galaxy has four spiral arms, following years of debate sparked by images taken by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope that only showed two arms.
The new research, which is published online today [17 December] in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, is part of the RMS Survey, which was launched by academics at the University of Leeds.
Astronomers cannot see what our Galaxy, which is called the Milky Way, looks like because we ...
In collaboration with the University of Basel, an international team of researchers has observed a strong energy loss caused by frictional effects in the vicinity of charge density waves.
This may have practical significance in the control of nanoscale friction. The results have been published in the scientific journal Nature Materials.
Friction is often seen as an adverse phenomenon that leads to wear and causes energy loss. Conversely, however, too little friction can be a disadvantage as well – ...
A new type of transistor that could make possible fast and low-power computing devices for energy-constrained applications such as smart sensor networks, implantable medical electronics and ultra-mobile computing is feasible, according to Penn State researchers.
Called a near broken-gap tunnel field effect transistor (TFET), the new device uses the quantum mechanical tunneling of electrons through an ultrathin energy barrier to provide high current at low voltage.
Penn State, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and IQE, a specialty wafer manufacturer, jointly presented their findings at ...
The team of Johannes Zuber at the IMP in Vienna, Austria, managed to overcome remaining key limitations of RNA interference (RNAi) - a unique method to specifically shut off genes.
By using an optimized design, the scientists were able to inhibit genes with greatly enhanced efficiency and accuracy. The new method facilitates the search for drug targets and improves the interpretation of experimental results.
The IMP will make this „RNAi toolkit“ available to researchers. Results of the study are published in ...
20.12.2013 | Materials Sciences
20.12.2013 | Life Sciences
20.12.2013 | Life Sciences
19.12.2013 | Event News
11.12.2013 | Event News
10.12.2013 | Event News