There’s a new building block in town, and it generates its own clean energy. Researchers from Exeter University developed new glass blocks that are embedded with small solar cells. Not only do the blocks generate energy, but they also provide thermal insulation and allow natural light to enter buildings.
Called Solar Squared, the blocks are embedded during the manufacturing process with an array of optical elements that focus sunlight on tiny solar cells. The blocks are made to ensure maximum solar absorption, even in tricky urban areas.
“The modular design is completely scalable, and allows for seamless architectural integration,” according to an Exeter press release. “The streamlined nature of the technology enables it to be embedded in conventional construction materials, meaning that its applications are myriad.”
Professor Tapas Mallick and Dr Hasan Baig, along with IIB Research Commercialization Manager Jim Williams, hope their patent-pending design will revolutionize the construction industry.
“Deployment of standard solar technology is limited by the large area requirement and the negative visual impact,” said Dr Baig from the Environment and Sustainability Institute in Cornwall. “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.”
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