Date: Sep 12, 2018

Researchers have found a way of making cheaper energy-efficient windows using vanadium.

The new technology may open up a market worth billions of dollars for ASX-listed vanadium players.

>> Scroll down for a list of ASX stocks with vanadium exposure, courtesy of leading ASX data provider MakCorp

The US Department of Energy’s Office of Science says US buildings leak about 30 per cent of their energy through inefficient windows, costing consumers an estimated $US42 billion ($58.9 billion) annually.

New York’s Empire State Building reported energy savings of $US2.4 million and cut carbon emissions by 4000 tonnes after installing “smart” glass windows.

This has led the department to begin trying to commercialise a new process for synthesizing vanadium dioxide nanoparticles that makes manufacturing energy-efficient “smart windows” economic.

A nanoparticle is a microscopic particle of between 1 and 100 nanometres in size. Nanoparticles have a range of potential applications including in biomedical, optical and electronics.

Researchers from the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory are working to bring the new technology to market as quickly as possible.

Thermochromic smart windows work automatically to pass infrared energy in winter to keep buildings warm and block infrared energy in the summer to keep them cooler.

The nanoparticle-based vanadium dioxide films have approximately twice the solar modulation values for high and low temperatures as thin films, said Jie Li, a chemical engineer at Argonne.

Solar modulation is the amount of solar energy that the vanadium dioxide material can control at low and high temperatures.

Thermochromic technology has attracted industrial interest for decades but has been a niche product because of its high cost and limited performance, said Ralph Muehleisen, who heads Argonne’s building science program.

The problem has been that the best performing material for smart windows is vanadium dioxide in nanoparticle form.

But, according to Argonne, until recently no one knew how to cheaply produce the nanoparticle form in enough volume to support commercialisation.

“The use of nanoparticles increases performance and the continuous flow process we’ve invented reduces the cost of manufacturing them, so this is finally a technology that makes sense for window manufacturers to consider,” Mr Muehleisen said.

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