Solar power is considered as one of the most sustainable sources of energy. Unfortunately, the use of this concept isn’t maximized due to the high installation costs of the photovoltaic panels on buildings, and because they don’t really look appealing on building architecture. That’s why the best solution is to create construction products that have embedded solar technology.
Researchers from the University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Science have created a sustainable solution for buildings which will revolutionize the construction industry–solar glass bricks.
These streamlined solar technology that fits into glass blocks were created by Professor Tapas Mallick and Dr Hasan Baig and IIB Research Commercialisation Manager Jim Williams. Called Solar Squared, it is able to generate electricity while allowing greater amounts of light to enter, and it can also provide improved thermal insulation.
“Buildings consume more than forty percent of the electricity produced across the globe,” Dr Baig said, who is based at the Environment and Sustainability Institute in Cornwall. “Deployment of standard solar technology is limited by the large area requirement and the negative visual impact. We wanted to overcome these limitations by introducing technologies that become a part of the building’s envelope. We now have the capability to build integrated, affordable, efficient, and attractive solar technologies as part of the building’s architecture, in places where energy demand is highest, whilst having minimal impact on the landscape and on quality of life.”
Source: Daily Mail
Solar Squared was developed through a project collaboration involving feedback and insight given by Cheshire-based Glass Block Technology Ltd as well as creative businesses in Cornwall. According to Jim Williams, “The collaborative approach involving participants in the glass block industry and professional design agencies working closely with our academics has proved to be a powerful combination.”
The product’s patent-pending design is made up of an array of optical elements which focus sunlight on small-sized solar cells. These solar cells are incorporated within the glass block during manufacture, and can collect a large fraction of diffuse components of sunlight, even when it is installed vertically, which makes it useful in urban areas. It is modular and completely scalable.
Currently, the team is looking for test sites to demonstrate the product’s effectiveness and potential.