Researchers Design New Solar-Powered Window
campus news 2003.9.02
team of researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has developed
the first of its kind solar-powered, integrated window system that
could significantly reduce dependency on the same energy grid that
caused the biggest power outage in U.S. history.
Designed to function as a shading system, the Dynamic Shading Window
System (DSWS) uses a newly developed solar-energy technology to
convert the suns light and diverted heat into storable energy
that can be used to also efficiently heat, cool, and artificially
light the same office building. Developed primarily for commercial
buildings, the DSWS blocks the harshest rays while allowing the
most pleasing daylight to stay in a buildings interior.
Our system, which can be incorporated into existing commercial
buildings as well as new ones, could become a significant part in
the development of an overall energy plan to reduce dependence on
the national power grid. This could save businesses the biggest
consumers of energy untold utility costs and significantly
reduce U.S. need for fossil fuels, says Anna Dyson, assistant
professor of architecture who co-developed the DSWS.
The DSWS system is made of clear plastic panels that fit in between
two panes of glass. On each panel are dozens of small, pyramid-shaped
units, or modules, made from semi- translucent focusing
plastic lenses, that track the motion of the sun. Sensors, embedded
in the walls or the roof, ensure that the units are always facing
the sun to capture all incoming rays while at the same time deflecting
harsh, unwanted rays from a buildings interior.
Each unit holds a miniaturized photovoltaic (PV), or solar-cell,
device used to collect light and heat that is then transferred into
useable energy to run the motors, also embedded in the buildings
interior walls. The remaining energy is used for heat, air conditioning,
and artificial lighting. The surplus energy can be directly and
automatically distributed through wires inside a buildings
walls, or can be stored in a group of batteries, for later use.
This solar-powered technology will provide the typical business
office the most superior lighting availablenatural daylight.
It will allow for better views outside your window that are no longer
hidden by a standard shade or obscured by penetrating glare,