Sunday, May 10, 2015

2015 EPO Awards Finalist – Dynamically tintable glass

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Can you imagine being connected to a company celebrating 350 years of activity, founded as a secret, mirror glassmaking workshop for the King’s Palace? And then, 350 years later, can you believe the same company invented the most magical window panes on earth? There’s mystery, intrigues and a long history of glass technology at the Saint-Gobain Vitrage Company! Even the original 18th century location (in Saint-Gobain, France) and it’s buildings … are historic!

Today Saint-Gobain is a multinational enterprise, represented in more than 64 countries, with 180,000 employees and 12 research centers! The group’s activity focuses on habitat and industrial applications, and in particular, high-performance building materials serving comfort and energy efficiency.

The technology disclosed in European patent EP0831360, titled Electrochemical device, and competing as finalist in the industrial category of the 2015 EPO Inventor Awards, was developed by a Saint-Gobain subsidiary in the USA called SageGlass®

The invention pertains to dynamically tintable glass, that is, glass whose tint may be turned on or off, or automatically adjusted, according to the amount of sunlight and heat outside. The implications for energy efficiency are enormous since a whole building equipped with Sageglass® may be wired to adjust according to the external conditions of light and solar heat, without blinds, shutters or even human intervention, and thus keep the solar heat and  glare out or let it in, depending on the tint (and season).

This highly patented technology invokes clear, electrically conductive and electrochemical, nanoparticle layers applied to glass, enabling lithium ions and electrons to transfer from one layer to another, for the purposes of tinting the glass, at the flick of a switch that turns on very low voltage electricity; and for the ions and electrons to be able to back out of the layers, and reverse the glass back to clear, when the low voltage current is switched off. The process for applying the coatings is part of the invention.

Below, you will find the Abstract for EP0831360, titled Electrochemical device, and an exploded view of the invention glass and electrochemical and conductive nanoparticle layers.

In an electrochemical device having one or more substrates (1, 7), one or more electrically conductive layers (2, 6), one or more electrochemically active layers capable of reversible ion insertion (especially of H<+>, Li<+>, Na<+> and Ag<+>) and an electrolyte, the electrolyte (4) comprises one or more layers of mineral oxide-type material in which ionic conduction is created or enhanced by incorporation of hydrogen and/or nitrogen compounds, especially nitrides. Also claimed are (i) electrochromic glazing including the above device, especially having variable energy and/or light transmission, together with one or more transparent glass or plastic substrates preferably assembled as multiple or laminated glazing; (ii) energy storage elements, especially a battery, including the above device; and (iii) a gas sensor including the above device.; Further claimed is a process for making the above device, involving deposition of the hydrogen and/or nitrogen compound layer of the electrolyte by a vacuum method (cathodic sputtering, vapour deposition or plasma CVD), by a sol-gel synthesis method (especially by dipping, spray coating or laminar coating) or even by gas, powder or liquid phase pyrolysis. [EP0831360]

Thus, the most magical glass on earth, now competing for the 2015 EPO Inventor awards, comes 350 years after the magic of Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors!

Saint-Gobain 350 – From 1665 to 2015 – The Exhibition!/en

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