Paintable Heat-Reflective Coatings for Low-Cost Energy Efficient Windows

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OPEN 2015
Fort Collins, Colorado
Project Term:
05/22/2020 - 05/21/2022

Critical Need:

Air conditioning consumes about 2.2 quads of energy in the U.S. per year, a significant portion of which is used to counteract heat from the sun coming through windows. This heat comes through windows predominantly in the form of visible light and invisible infrared light, which can quickly heat a room. Reflective window films are commercially available to prevent near-infrared light from penetrating windows. However, high costs associated with installation (mostly due to skilled technicians installing window films) and long-term film longevity deters potential consumers across all sectors. Window coating innovations that simplify window installation, reduce production costs, and improve film durability could encourage greater adoption of energy-saving window coatings.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Colorado State University (CSU) will work with BASF and Cypris Materials to accelerate the technology first developed under a 2015 ARPA‐E OPEN award. They will transition the developed coating into an industrially scalable, sprayable process to retrofit energy inefficient windows with a heat-reflective, visibly transparent film. Under the original award, nanostructured coatings were shown to greatly improve the efficiency of single‐pane windows by lowering solar heat gain. The current team aims to further improve the coating technology and decrease installation costs to 1/10 of current high‐performance commercial products. The team brings together expertise in polymerization catalysis and macromolecular self‐assembly with experience in paint formulation, deposition, and durability to produce a high performance and robust optical coating that homeowners can apply themselves.

Potential Impact:

If successful, the CSU team estimates that widespread installation of this paintable coating could save roughly 0.4 quads of energy annually.


Increasing energy-efficiency is one of the easiest ways to reduce US reliance on energy imports.


Innovative and widely adopted window coatings could drastically reduce energy consumed to cool homes and businesses and therefore avoid greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation.


CSU estimates that their technology could be sold for nearly one third of the cost of existing window coating technologies, saving consumers money.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Marina Sofos
Project Contact:
Garret Miyake
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