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Promising glass film ready for the market

Picture a wafer-thin film that is invisibly incorporated into window glass to repel heat during the summer and let it in during the winter, saving hundreds of Euros in energy costs each year. This product, in a nutshell, is the result of an intensive collaboration between Yparex and Brightlands Materials Center (BMC,) a joint innovation center of TNO and the Province of Limburg, both of which are located at Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Geleen.

The crucial ingredient in this film is a special pigment developed at the campus by Brightlands Materials Center. “This functional pigment can switch between blocking and letting heat through based on a preset temperature,” BMC’s Ryan van Zandvoort explains. “It’s a property that is useful in laminated safety glass to better regulate the indoor climate of buildings, making a significant contribution to climate-neutral living.” “We went off in search of a party to help us and ended up with Yparex, right here at the same campus. That’s the advantage of the ecosystem here. It enables you to meet up with other companies, exchange ideas, and before you know it, you’re sitting down together to discuss a project.” 

Pigment opens door for innovative films 
Yparex was interested immediately. “Of course,” says Wouter van den Berg, commercial director. “We have a lot of experience with developing plastic films for various applications, including solar panels. This pigment appeared to be ideally suited for mixing with a special kind of plastic to produce a film. The final formula did take some time, but we managed to produce a film that can easily be added to laminate glass.” 

Heat regulation without loss of transparency 
BMC developed the formula and manufactured the functional films to test the properties. “The results were excellent,” says Ryan van Zandvoort. “When it reaches a certain temperature, heat is kept out without any loss of transparency.” “By varying the composition of the pigment, we can control the temperature at which this occurs, making the film suitable for many different climates. It saves on the need for air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter.” 

Profitable and user-friendly 
According to the latest calculations, the film yields energy savings of around 20 Euros per square meter of glass at the current Dutch energy prices. “This makes it more than interesting for the global construction industry,” adds Wouter van den Berg. “The great thing is that the film is easy to apply and doesn’t require any steering or energy. It’s user-friendly, in other words. The process is automatic and there is no wear and tear. We expect to see a lot of interest from major window manufacturers, for example. In principle, the film is ready for large-scale production and the market.” 

Less CO2
According to Ryan van Zandvoort, the innovation is also a great fit for another BMC project: a coating product with the same properties. “Both innovations contribute to lowering energy consumption and reducing CO2 emissions, one of our spearheads. Both developments can also be deployed for various applications in the construction industry. We expect the estimated payback period for the additional costs to be five to seven years.”
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