Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Solar Decathlon: Aerogel

A popular material this year was a translucent polycarbonite material. We had some sealing the windows in the office while the old windows were off being cleaned and repaired. I've seen them in greenhouses (Solexx) and plan to use them in my kitchen ceiling... eventually.

Solexx greenhouse panel

This is spiffy material, but not a great insulator. Probably better than the office windows they replaced, but then what isn't?

Aerogel is a substance developed by NASA. (more)
-It's used in the Martian Pathfinder,
-it was used in the Stardust mission to catch comet and other stellar debris,
-it is 99.8% Air,
-provides 39 times more insulating than the best fiberglass insulation
-is 1,000 times less dense than glass

Georgia Tech, and possibly others, put Aerogel in the holes in the greenhouse stuff and probably put a bit more between two sheets of the greenhouse stuff. The inside of their house looked like this.

The walls, the ceiling, everywhere. It lets light in while maintaining your privacy. And at night your house appears to glow.

I'm not sure how I'd apply this technology to my existing house. I suppose I could make a couple of window inserts to put up during the winter to better insulate the windows without loosing too much of the natural light.

Also cool...

I've been planning to do something similar with my kitchen ceiling. Cover it with the greenhouse stuff and then put lights behind it. I'll probably use ropes of white LED lights instead of a couple of blue lights like done here. Mine will never look this cool but it was nice to get an idea of how my idea will play out.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hey there.

I've been fantasizing about having a translucent home with possibly some transparent windows for quite some time. I came across Solexx and Aerogel and considered constructing a home with mini-splits to offset cooling/heating needs. I thought I might perform a web-search to see if anyone else considered building with both of those products and came across your blogpost. Just wanted to share.... great minds think alike. :)