A company in Edmonton is working on technology to turn windows into transparent solar panels, with a boost from Alberta carbon tax revenues.
Applied Quantum Materials’ luminescent solar concentrator absorbs UV light as it hits window glass, then uses a nanomaterial to send it to the edges, where it can be converted to electricity, Global News reports. “We can apply a coating to the glass and the glass can absorb energy and it can transform that energy to solar cells which are located on the edges of the window frame,” said CEI David Antoniuk.
“What you have is simply glass that’s coated, it’s transparent, and it generates electricity,” he explained. “Because it absorbs the UV light, it acts as a filter. It reduces the heat load on a building, reducing the air conditioning costs, as well.”
The company, currently based at the University of Alberta, hopes its business partner, PCL Construction, “will incorporate the technology into sustainable buildings,” Global states. “They hope to revolutionize the building industry and reduce the carbon footprint of infrastructure.”
AQM is one of six firms around the world developing similar technology, but said nanomaterials give it an advantage over the competition. With a proven concept, Global says the firm is now looking to work with bigger sheets of glass and boost the efficiency of a process that will eventually offer a two- to three-year payback on the purchase price.
The project was one of 29 that received funding from the provincial Climate Change Innovation Technology Framework’s clean technology development program. Out of C$20 million in available grants, AQM received $420,000.
“For every dollar we put in, we already know we’ve got almost $3 out before we start the projects,” Alberta Innovates CEO Laura Kilcrease said of the cleantech initiative. “But I think that will be a minor amount of money compared to the return on investment that will come from these products creating new companies, new jobs, access to markets overseas.”
“It’s taking the research out of the labs, off the shelf and commercializing it,” said Alberta Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous. “So there are day-to-day applications. When the average Albertan asks, ‘How does this impact me?’ Well here’s, for example, a technology that will help them reduce their monthly bills while also shrinking their greenhouse gas emissions.”