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Week in Tech: Glowing Windows that Generate Power | Architect Magazine

Plus, a startup in Kenya turns plastic into building materials, the glazing potential of wood, Trump Casino and Hotel implodes, and more design-tech news.

 Yilin Li/Rice University
Yilin Li/Rice University

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Researchers from Rice University, in Houston, have developed a novel way to generate energy through the use of colorful, glowing “windows” that redirect light to edge-band solar cells. More appropriately described as “luminescent solar concentrates,” the candy-colored panes are composed of a conjugated polymer sandwiched between two acrylic panels. The polymer—a light-emitting compound dubbed polynaphthalene-alt-vinylene—absorbs light from the sun and other sources before channeling it toward the solar panel–lined edges of each pane.

Founded in 2018 by materials engineer Nzambi Matee, the Nairobi, Kenya–based startup Gjenge Makers is transforming the waste plastic into building materials. Initially founded to collect and sort plastics to sell to recycling companies, the startup found itself with more plastic than the recycling companies could purchase. So it decided to make its own solution. By mixing plastic waste with a binding sand at high temperatures, the startup creates a thick paste that it then compresses into durable bricks. The resulting pavers can “hold twice the weight threshold of concrete blocks,” according to the company’s website. The product comes in an array of colors and thicknesses, from 60 millimeters (ideal for roads) to 30 millimeters (suitable for pedestrian walkways). To date, the company has recycled upwards of 20 tons of plastic, and created 112 jobs for the local community. [Gjenge Makers]

USDA Forest Service
USDA Forest Service

Researchers from the University of Maryland, the University of Colorado, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Products Laboratory have created a transparent wood with the hope of replacing clear glass lites in windows. Due to the embodied energy of glass (producing it generates approximately 25,000 metric tons of emissions each year) and its low insulating values, conventional glazing leaves something to be desired. The research team created transparent wood by bleaching low-density balsa wood and perforating the wood with polyvinyl alcohol, a synthetic polymer that essentially renders the wood transparent. Thanks to the cellulose structure of wood, the panes are less energy intensive, but more lightweight, durable, and thermally efficient than glass. [USDA]

Read on >>>> Source: Week in Tech: Glowing Windows that Generate Power | Architect Magazine

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