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Transparent Flexible Vacuum Insulation

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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Technology Marketing Summary

One of the biggest challenges in reducing commercial and residential building energy consumption is developing better insulating materials, for windows in particular. Current solutions for poorly performing windows require the installation of new windows, and presently the best insulating windows require a vacuum to be maintained between two panels of glass. These windows are expensive, unreliable, and come in set sizes, meaning they cannot be easily installed in many existing buildings. Despite these shortcomings research firm Markets & Markets expects the global glass insulation market to reach $58.7 Billion by 2021, growing at a CAGR of 7.6% over the forecast period. However, in order to minimize energy loss from windows in all buildings new technology that is both cost effective and easy to install will be required. 

Description

Researchers at NREL have created a revolutionary type of insulation based on transparent evacuated capsules. The insulation uses nanometer to sub-micrometer diameter evacuated capsules integrated with flexible plastic to achieve transparency, and the resulting material has an insulating value similar to that of vacuum insulated glass. Because the vacuum capsules are integrated with a thin plastic the material can be deployed in a process similar to window tinting films where the film is pressed to a window and cut to size. This allows easy and inexpensive installation for trillions of square feet of existing windows.

Benefits
  • Optically transparent window insulation
  • Inexpensive and easy to deploy
  • Customizable to different window dimensions
  • Extremely low thermal conductivity value (low R value, high U value)
Applications and Industries
  • Glass insulation
  • Smart buildings
  • Energy efficiency
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
NREL ROI 12-78ProposedAvailable07/28/201707/28/2017

Contact NREL About This Technology

To: Erin Beaumont<erin.beaumont@nrel.gov>