Friday, May 27, 2011

HeliOptix – Energy Generating Windows

Usually, solar panels are visualized on the roofs of buildings, or scattered somewhere in the desert.  However, thanks to thin film photovoltaic and other new technologies, we will start seeing more building integrated solar production, known as BIPV.

One new solution for a solar-powered building surface is the HeliOptix solar façade.  Syracuse University’s Center for Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems is the first place this new and innovative solar façade is being tested.

HeliOptix has designed an integrated, tracking solution that uses the concentrating power of Fresnel lenses.  These windows generate energy by using an array of tiny generators that “follow the sun like a field of transparent flowers.  Each lens-and-solar-cell molecule collects light onto a photovoltaic cell while heating up a trickle of water.  (Ferris, David. “Innovate: Windows That Generate Energy”  Sierra Magazine, March/April 2011: Page 22).
Click here to view a video of the HeliOptix facade at work! 

The high performance in this design draws energy not just from light, but also from heat in the form of water, a process known as cogeneration.  Given Las Vegas’s near constant supply of sun, this would be an ideal type of solar generation, especially in commercial and hospitality uses. Imagine these panels being placed in a LEED certified buildings such as those at City Center.  If it lives up to its promise, Heloptix's solar facade will deliver concentrated performance and sparkle too!