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Smart Composite Material for Advanced Building Fenestration to Enhance Energy Efficiency
Energy consumed by buildings for heating, cooling, and lighting needs, accounts for more than 40% CO2 emissions. However, while keeping the thermal and visual comfort, a substantial portion of energy is lost due to our inability to control the ingress and egress of energy through transparent building envelope - mainly windows and facades. The UK government's ambitious target of reaching zero emission by 2050 cannot be achieved without controlling ingress and egress of energy through buildings. By 2050, 85% of the existing building stock will still be in use which indicates that retrofitting of building envelope is indispensable. Among the other building envelope, windows and facades are the least energy efficient but are easily replaceable. Glazing technology plays an important role in determining a building's energy performance, required to perform multiple roles of regulating heat transfer by conduction convection, solar and long wave radiation between internal and external environments while maintaining comfortable daylight environments by allowing the transmittance of natural daylight; reducing the need for supplementary electric lighting. The windows and facades also play an important aesthetic function by providing occupants a visual link to the external environment and influencing the appearance of buildings. Thus, developing new smart glazing technology for windows and facades to modulate the incoming and outgoing heat into indoor space to reduce building energy load, while at the same time providing visual comfort, is crucial. The proposed project aims to undertake an ambitious innovative research program of developing new technology to significantly reduce energy demand in the built environment at an acceptable cost. The goal will be achieved by reducing heat loss, controlling incoming solar radiation to maximise solar gain, minimise heat loss in winter and reverse it by flipping windows in summer while ensuring the best natural lighting conditions with no glare. The overarching goal of energy efficacy and visual comfort will be achieved by smart composite material in which each elements of composite will bring a unique property and contribute to enhance energy efficiency of windows and facades. In winter, the TIA will absorb external IR radiations and transfer heat to PCM for storage, which will be released back to the building, the TIM in composite will forbid heat loss through longwave thermal radiation and the IR reflective coating will prevent heat loss by reflecting IR back to room. In summer, the orientation will be flipped around to reduce cooling load. In the flipped case, heat gain by IR will be prevented by IR reflective layer while the TCM will regulator the transparency to control the indoor temperature constant. The multi-fold smart composite developed in this research program. This will enable advanced glazing technology to achieve U-values down to 0.4 W/m2K1 while maintaining comfortable daylight environments and reduce annual energy consumption by 30-40% for buildings. The outcome of this research will enable us to create technological pathways towards achieving energy positive buildings in the UK.
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