Charlotte, NC

Solar Windows Research Project Received Grant from NFS

Jerome Quentzel

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CHARLOTTE, NC - The National Science Foundation (NFS) has awarded a $250,000 Partnerships for Innovation – Technology Translation (PFI-TT) research grant to a team at the University of North Carolina Charlotte.

The money will help with their project developing high-performance regenerative windows combined with climate responsive solar cells.

NSF PFI-TT grants offer the chance to turn research funded by NSF in any field of science or engineering into technological innovations with good commercial prospects and societal impact.

The research project will be conducted by an interdisciplinary team led by Principal Investigator Kyoung Hee Kim, associate professor of architecture, and her co-investigators Chengde Wu and Abasifreke (Aba) Ebon. The team involves graduate and undergraduate researchers as well as Dennis Richter, the president of Richter Developments and Solterra Partners.

“The proposed high-performance window system incorporates a closed air cavity where solar cells are suspended in a conditioned, closed air space to prevent heat build-up, dust accumulation and moisture formation resulting in high energy conversion efficiency and system longevity,” the team wrote in their project abstract.

The shape of the solar cells is put together in accordance to a site-specific sun’s path to increase energy production. The windows will also have additional merits like noise and thermal insulation, good shading, all without compromising the aesthetic value.

The project was first started in the School of Architecture’s Integrated Design Research Lab (IDRL) and was later developed through the University’s Ventureprise entrepreneurship program. It received a 2020 NFS Innovation Corps (I-Corps) grant to encourage zero carbon architecture practices by putting micro-photovoltaic cells within double pane glass.

Last summer, the team did an initial proof of concept, building small-scale prototypes and performing computer simulations and lab measurements. They are expected to build a prototype and do performance verifications in the IDRL and the William States Lee College of Engineering.

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