Solar bricks and smart glazing: could your next home be energy positive? Researchers at the University of Exeter are developing materials that harvest more of the sun’s energy. With commercial partners interested, homes and offices that give energy back to the grid could soon become commonplace. Prof Tapas Mallick leads the solar energy research group and is involved in two projects with particularly practical applications. The first is building-integrated photovoltaics for construction materials – or simply, solar bricks. Essentially, they are what it says on the tin: glass bricks strong enough to be used as a construction material, fitted with a mini solar panel inside. Mallick explains that an optical device embedded within magnifies the light so, even though the “brick” is small, it’s still very efficient at capturing light and converting it into electricity. Smart glazing technology is another area where Mallick and his team are leading the way towards more energy efficient buildings. They have developed a type of window glazing that reduces heat loss in winter and can control incoming solar radiation in summer. “It will not only reduce the amount of heat going into the building envelope, it will absorb the heat and store it in thermal form, to be used later in the evening when needed,” he says.
Guardian 2nd June 2021 read more »