With their integrated photovoltaic generator and extraordinary design, recently presented energy generating glass bricks could soon transform external facades into sustainable power stations. Different glass colors are possible for an individual facade. Energy researchers from the University of Exeter in Exeter, Devon, South West England, proudly presented their pioneering new glass bricks, called Solar Squared. They are looking forward to a broad market introduction. As a further possible component of Green Buildings, the generated electricity can be used for the buildings occupants’ own energy demands.
Energy Generating Glass Bricks are Connected With a Special Plug System
Professor Tapas Mallick, chief scientific advisor for Build Solar, says, “We are aiming to build integrated, affordable, efficient and attractive solar technologies, which have the smallest impact on the local landscape. It’s an exciting venture and one that should capture the imagination of the construction industry, when looking to develop new office blocks and public buildings or infrastructure projects such as train stations and carparks.”
The energy generating glass bricks are connected together using a special plug system. They can fit seamlessly in the facade of the building – whether newly built or renovated houses. Despite the collected solar radiation which will be converted into electricity, the
energy generating glass bricks let some light get through to slightly illuminate the interior of the building. Unfortunately, the intensity of solar radiation can’t be regulated so easy as with common window glass and external sun protection or, even better, electrochromic smart glass. Everything at once, high customizable shading and generating clean electricity, seems not to be possible. Or maybe with external photovoltaic blinds? However, they exist a few years but they are far from being a serious breakthrough.
“It’s now clear that the world is moving to a distributed energy system, of which a growing proportion is renewable. This, coupled with the shift to electric vehicles means that there are substantial opportunities for new ways of generating electricity at the point of use” said Jim Williams, Co-inventor and Exeter’s research commercialization manager in Cornwall.
With the start-up company Build Solar, the Exeter team aims to bring the energy generating glass brick to the market in 2018. At the moment, they are looking for investments to carry out commercial tests.
Images: Build Solar & University of Exeter