Researchers from England’s University of Exeter have created a new technology they say “could revolutionise the construction industry”.
Academics from the Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Science department have developed a solar power technology that fits into glass blocks.
Facades using the product, called Solar Squared, will be able to generate electricity while allowing greater amounts of daylight. The blocks also provide improved thermal insulation, developers say.
Solar Squared’s patent-pending design consists of an array of optical elements that focus sunlight on small-sized solar cells.
These are incorporated within the glass bricks during manufacture and they collect diffuse components of sunlight, making it useful for capturing solar energy in urban areas.
The modular design is scalable and intended for flexible structural integration.
The University said “that many construction materials deployed on the exterior of buildings could become energy-generating” and that “making slight adjustments to the manufacturing process of building materials could have a fundamental impact on the planet’s energy requirements”.
Dr. Hasan Baig who worked on the project and is based at the Environment and Sustainability Institute in Cornwall, said: “Buildings consume more than 40% of the electricity produced across the globe.
“Deployment of standard solar technology is limited by the large area requirement and the negative visual impact. We wanted to overcome these limitations by introducing technologies that become a part of the building's envelope.
“We now have the capability to build integrated, affordable, efficient, and attractive solar technologies as part of the building's architecture, in places where energy demand is highest, whilst having minimal impact on the landscape and on quality of life.”
The team is currently looking for test sites to demonstrate the effectiveness and potential of Solar Squared and seeking investment for their new start up.
For more information visit Build Solar's website.