New kind of smart-glass changes color and produces electricity

April 9, 2015 by Bob Yirka report
New kind of smart-glass changes color and produces electricity
Credit: ACS Nano, DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.5b00706

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers working at the Georgia Institute of Technology has developed a type of smart-glass that not only changes color, but creates electricity. They have published a description of their work and the glass they have produced and some ideas on what the new kind of glass might be used for in their paper published in ACS Nano.

Many types of smart-glass have been created, some that display a tint when it gets sunny out, others that change to prevent heat from coming in, etc. In this new effort, the researchers sought to add something new—production of . Realizing that many types of glass are subjected to rain and wind, they sought to find a way to coat a window that would take advantage of triboelectrics—capturing the energy in that occurs when two materials meet.

They came up with a two layer solution, one layer to capture the energy in raindrops, the other to do the same for wind. In the first layer, the researchers developed nano-sized generators that would take advantage of the in raindrops that develops as it rubs against air on its way down from clouds and then as it crashes into a car's windshield. The second layer consisted of a sandwich of two charged sheets of plastic with tiny springs between them. As wind pressure develops on an accelerating vehicle, the plastic sheets are pushed closer together, creating an .

Together the two layers result in a glass that is initially clear, but then develops a blue tint—they also generated as much as 130 milliwatts of electricity per square meter of glass, which the researchers point out, is enough to charge a sleeping smartphone. Moving forward, the team suggests that such types of glass could be used with wireless networks because it is not based on a separate power source. But, before that can happen, the team is looking into ways to store the power that is generated. They think it might be possible to embed see-through super-capacitors in the glass as well. At this time, it is not clear how much with all that embedded technology would cost.

Explore further: Thin, flexible glass for energy storage

More information: Motion-Driven Electrochromic Reactions for Self-Powered Smart Window System, ACS Nano, Article ASAP. DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.5b00706

Abstract
The self-powered system is a promising concept for wireless networks due to its independent and sustainable operations without an external power source. To realize this idea, the triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG) was recently invented, which can effectively convert ambient mechanical energy into electricity to power up portable electronics. In this work, a self-powered smart window system was realized through integrating an electrochromic device (ECD) with a transparent TENG driven by blowing wind and raindrops. Driven by the sustainable output of the TENG, the optical properties, especially the transmittance of the ECD, display reversible variations due to electrochemical redox reactions. The maximum transmittance change at 695 nm can be reached up to 32.4%, which is comparable to that operated by a conventional electrochemical potentiostat (32.6%). This research is a substantial advancement toward the practical application of nanogenerators and self-powered systems.

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12 comments

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gkam
2 / 5 (5) Apr 09, 2015
What? No coal? It's not American, to produce electricity without filthy wastes.

BP told me that.
TulsaMikel
2.7 / 5 (3) Apr 09, 2015
Any energy production that's efficient enough to benefit the masses will be criticized.
The billionaires of the world have convinced regular people that all the millionaires of the world are causing all our problems. Irony?
TulsaMikel
5 / 5 (6) Apr 09, 2015
Storing the energy we create should be just as important as developing new ways to create it. We basically use energy as we create it and we stop generating as demand dies down during the year. If we had efficient ways to store energy we could create reserves and have more options like exporting energy created in 1st world countries and energy rich regions of the world to the parts of the world that need it.
hillmeister
4 / 5 (4) Apr 09, 2015
This is awesome! Also, as for the transparent battery, the answer is 2D materials. ^_^

As more renewable energies like these emerge and converge, the fossil fuel industry days are numbered. You cant stop technology! It's inevitable! Resistance is futile! :D
Dethe
3 / 5 (1) Apr 09, 2015
The Prusian blue layer is known to behave like the battery (note that it does turn blue, when the electrodes are shorted), so this is a one of many existing implementations of such a battery. It requires lotta of rare indium, so I don't expect it will get into praxis, until some other type of conductive electrode will be implemented.
As more renewable energies like these emerge and converge, the fossil fuel industry days are numbered
Only if you cannot calculate the consumption of fossil fuels required for mass-scale productions of these "renewable" gadgets. But the people don't want to calculate, they just want the assurance, that the oil peak is solved.
physyD
5 / 5 (1) Apr 10, 2015
Wow, some commentors have emotional issues. It is my belief that Americans don't actually care where electricity comes from as long as it's cheap and abundant. They don't want to pay double to go "green", but if it's green at around the same price without massive subsidies, sure! The glass above is really cool and will have applications but not in the home unless commercial industry can make it near the price of standard glass and still stay in business . It's just the way it is.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Apr 10, 2015
Storing the energy we create should be just as important as developing new ways to create it.

While I agree you in principle we need to develop the generating technologies first and foremost. Generation without storage is still useful. Storage without generation? Not so much.

They don't want to pay double to go "green", but if it's green at around the same price

The calculation will be a bit more complex. It needs to take into account the expected energy produced (as well as better insulation compared to the 'cheap' glass it would replace). If that comes out positive then the glass can well be a bit more expensive than the normal kind and still be an attractive investment.

That said: With such complex/mutilayer composites we always need to keep an eye out on how this can be recycled. Glass recycling is fairly straightforward. Recycling sandwiched heterogenous structures may be tricky.
PPihkala
not rated yet Apr 12, 2015
130mW/m2 is peanuts. It would be a lot less expensive to have a photovoltaic panel with much smaller size and battery to store the charge for operation during the night.
inorg_lsc
not rated yet Apr 13, 2015
https://www.youtu...2LIeMjbU
16+ Watts/m2. Other glass versions exist with up to 25-40 W/m2 of PV-generated electricity output.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Apr 13, 2015
While I agree you in principle we need to develop the generating technologies first and foremost. Generation without storage is still useful. Storage without generation? Not so much.


Solar and wind are close enough to grid parity as it stands that they don't need any more tax money dumped on them. Quite opposite: The generous subsidies merely discourages producers from closing the gap, and the fast expansion of these renewables is causing acute problems with the grid that demands the storage capacity right now.

Besides, 130 mW per square meter really isn't anything to write home about. It's only just able to charge a smartphone in about ten hours. If this is the kind of generating capacity research you're talking about, you seriously need to reconsider your priorities because the renewable energy revolution needs advances in terms of Gigawatts, not milliwatts.

The problem is literally a trillion times larger than this.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Apr 13, 2015
Solar and wind are close enough to grid parity as it stands that they don't need any more tax money dumped on them.

The best possible solution would be to stop subsidizing conventional sources and renewables at the same time. Fossil fuels (and especially nuclear energy) are currently heavily subisdized. There never was such a thing as 'grid parity' for them.

So shifting the subsidies over to storage solutions would be a smart move.

130 mW per square meter really isn't anything to write home about.

It's enough to run the dimming feature of the glass as well as some low power stuff in your home that doesn't need to be connected to the grid at all (e.g. Wifi or charging stations for various appliancnes from electric toothbrush to cell phone)
The dimming feature alone can save a LOT of power in airconditioning. That would be worth it without the added benefit of powering other stuff.

gkam
1 / 5 (1) Apr 13, 2015
Did somebody forget to tell Eikka that is not the only pane of glass they have?

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