How vanadium-coated smart glass saves energy

Windows. Photo by Jaisril, Flickr.

Smart glass windows made with vanadium are capable of saving more energy by stopping thermal radiation from escaping and, thus, preventing heat loss during the winter, and by avoiding infrared radiation from the sun from entering the building during the summer.

This is according to a compilation of studies made public today by VanadiumCorp Resource (TSX-V:VRB). The Vancouver-based company owns 100% of the Lac Doré vanadium-titanium-iron mine located in the eastern Canadian province of Quebec.

Based on research advanced by the U.S. Department of Education and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, VanadiumCorp’s CEO, Adriaan Bakker, said that vanadium defies the Wiedemann-Franz Law, which states that good conductors of electricity are also good conductors of heat. “The thermal conductivity attributed to vanadium electrons is ten times smaller than what would be expected from the Wiedemann-Franz Law. Vanadium dioxide acts as an insulator, helping to keep indoor heat from escaping through the window glass and still allows the full spectrum of sunlight to enter from the outside. At higher surface temperatures, however, it transforms into a metal that blocks heat-causing infrared solar radiation from entering,” he explained in a media statement.

Once these attributes were understood, Bakker added, researchers outside the U.S. were able to develop smart glass windows that, different from early prototypes, don’t require electricity to operate and don’t need silver/gold-based coatings. Instead, the new smart glass windows use a vanadium dioxide coating that is 50-150 nanometers thick, which is approximately 1,000 times thinner than a human hair.

In his quest to highlight the properties of vanadium, Bakker emphasized scientific papers that state that smart-windows are just the first step in the future design of temperature-responsive buildings. Such structures, he said, would be capable of cutting the rising costs of air-conditioning and heating, as well as dramatically reducing their carbon footprint.

According to the exec, there are almost a dozen institutions across the world working on enhancing the attributes of the vanadium-coated windows.