A new breed of windows could be on the market within the next three to five years. These special windows are being developed to combat a key issue with any window – cleaning. The cleaning of windows is hugely time consuming – and can cost business’ and households a fortune over the long run. The glass companies could work hand in hand with UK industry - construction and groundwork contractors across the country and move out to the rest of the world.
University College London supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council have successfully produced prototype samples that confirm the window glass is fully functioning in three key areas. The three areas are the following: Self-cleaning, energy saving and anti-glare.
The glass that could be used for the windows is ‘ultra’ resistant to water, that would mean rain droplets hitting the surface is formed into spheres, rolling easily over the surface and taking the dirt away with them. This is possible through the pencil shaped nano-structures that are engraved into the glass, that traps air and ensure only minimal amounts of water can come into contact with the surface. A normal piece of window glass is not able to offer this, as raindrops cling to the surface and slide down slowly – which as we know leaves dirty marks behind.
During the colder months, the glass will put to use its coated film of vanadium dioxide. This material prevents heat loss. During the times where the weather can be too hot to handle, the material will work in the opposite way – preventing infra-red radiation from the sun entering the building. The material is cost effective and proves to be sustainable materials for ongoing use and development in the development of these window types. The UCL development team are calculating that heating bills could be cut by up to 40%.
The nano-structure design gives the windows the same anti reflective properties that were found in the eyes of moths that evolved to help hide from predators, which is able to reduce the amount of light internally inside a room to less than 5%.
Discussions are under way with glass manufacturers in the UK to discuss ways of scaling the nano-manufacturing methods. Construction and groundwork contractors are staying up to date in the development of this glass as it could prove a huge new feature of their construction projects.