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A switchable glass façade that helps optimize buildings energy use: that’s, in short what smart glass developer eLstar Dynamics and the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research TNO will work on for the next two years.

The SwitchARP project aims to develop a switchable, non-transparent panel for sustainable and cost-effective energy regulation in homes and buildings. In winter, the dark facade absorbs the sun’s heat, and in summer, the building switches electronically to a reflective panel to block out sunlight. The project combines the technology of eLstar’s Electrophoretic Light Modulator (ELM) and TNO’s knowledge in the field of adaptive facades and layered materials. Previously, eLstar Dynamics developed a glass that can switch seamlessly from entirely black to transparent within thirty seconds.

Alternative to heavy insulation solutions

The project aims to validate that a switchable, non-transparent building envelope can technically, energetically, and economically contribute to making buildings more sustainable as an alternative to expensive and heavy insulation solutions. Besides energy reduction, the next-generation panels may even produce energy for heating in winter.

“Our collaboration with TNO aims to find more sustainable and lower-cost solutions to complex insulation in homes and buildings, as well as expands the use of eLstar’s technology beyond use in windows to cover all aspects of building façade energy efficiency,” said Anthony Slack, CEO of eLstar Dynamics. “Increasing thermal absorption directly on the façade using direct sunlight can significantly reduce the heat demand in winter and cooling demand in summer.”

“In this project, we develop energy-efficient façades with the combination of the knowledge of TNO in adaptive thin film technology and the knowledge of eLstar. TNO’s test-and-measurement equipment will be used to create and test the panels in both lab and external environments at the SolarBEAT facilities,” said Jonathan van den Ham, a TNO Materials Solutions department scientist.