Solar-powered integrated window system

The Hindu, Thursday, Sep 11, 2003

A TEAM of researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has developed a solar-powered, integrated window system that could reduce dependency on energy grid. Designed to function as a shading system, the Dynamic Shading Window System (DSWS) uses a solar-energy technology to convert the sun's light and diverted heat into storable energy that can be used to also efficiently heat, cool, and artificially light the same office building. DSWS blocks the harshest rays while allowing the most pleasing daylight to stay in a building's interior, says a press release from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

"Our system, can be incorporated into commercial buildings and new ones," 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 building's interior.

Each unit holds a miniaturised 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 building's 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 building's 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 available natural daylight. It will allow for better views outside your window that are no longer hidden by a standard shade or obscured by penetrating glare,'' says Dyson.