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Nanobubble Thermal Barrier

NanoSD

Retrofittable and Transparent Super-Insulator for Single-Pane Windows

Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$3,000,000
Location: 
San Diego, CA
Project Term: 
10/01/2016 to 09/30/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 

Numerous U.S. buildings have single-pane windows that do not insulate the building or its occupants as well as double-pane units or other advanced windows. Single-pane windows are also inferior in condensation resistance and occupant comfort. However, complete replacement of single-pane windows with efficient, modern windows is not always desirable or feasible due to cost, changes in appearance, and other concerns. Retrofitting, rather than replacing, single-pane windows can reduce heat loss and save roughly the amount of electricity needed to power 32 million U.S. homes each year. Transparent adhesive products that can be applied directly onto existing windows could improve window energy efficiency and other important qualities without substantially affecting the window's appearance.

Project Innovation + Advantages: 

NanoSD, with its partners will develop a transparent, nanostructured thermally insulating film that can be applied to existing single-pane windows to reduce heat loss. To produce the nanostructured film, the team will create hollow ceramic or polymer nanobubbles and consolidate them into a dense lattice structure using heat and compression. Because it is mostly air, the resulting nanobubble structure will exhibit excellent thermal barrier properties. The film can be transparent because the nanostructures are too small to be seen, but achieving this transparency needs processing innovations for assembling the film. The film should also be lightweight, flexible, fire/chemical resistant, soundproof, and condensation resistant. The nanobubble film will be integrated with a low emissivity layer to achieve the final insulating performance. The team will use cost-effective processing and assembly technologies to manufacture its window coating at a cost less than $5 per square foot.

Potential Impact: 

If successful, NanoSD's innovations will enable energy-efficient retrofits for the substantial remaining stock of single-pane windows in the United States. Retrofitting single-pane windows could produce significant economic and environmental benefits. These technologies could help reduce building energy consumption and save money for homeowners and businesses. Consumers adopting these retrofits could also benefit from improved window performance, including greater comfort and condensation resistance in cold weather and better soundproofing. Finally, by consuming less electricity, natural gas, and/or heating oil to warm a building, these technologies reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with using these energy sources.

Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Jennifer Gerbi
Project Contact: 
Dr. Sungho Jin
Partners
University of California, San Diego
Release Date: 
5/18/2016