Loughborough University scientists have developed a new Water-Filled Glass (WFG) system that allows houses to cool and reheat themselves without needing additional energy supply.
According to The Engineer, the revolutionary design – developed by Loughborough research head Dr Matyas Gutai and University of Kaiserslautern’s Dr Abolfazl Kheybari – involves a sheet of water being trapped between a panel of glass.
It can be used as part of a wider heating system, keeping buildings in hot climates cool, and buildings in cool settings warm.
Gutai developed the concept while studying for a PhD at the University of Tokyo after being inspired by ‘Rotenburo’, Japanese outdoor hot spring baths.
He then developed the idea into a working design and then created two prototype buildings in Hungary and Taiwan that use WFG as part of a larger mechanical system.
The water-filled glass system involves connecting the water-filled window panels to a storage tank using pipes embedded in the walls, so fluid can circulate between the two.
According to The Engineer, the system allows the ‘Water Houses’ to cool and reheat themselves, without needing an additional energy supply for most of the year.
When it is warm, the buildings stay cool as the water absorbs external and internal heat; this warm water is then circulated to the storage tank.
The heat – stored in the tank – can then be brought back to the walls if the temperature drops to reheat the building using a monitoring system similar to central heating.
Alternatively, the stored heat can also be used for hot water supply, opines Gutai.
A plus point for this new system is that water absorption and pumping take much less energy than HVAC systems.
The technology is also claimed to have other benefits, including acoustics, less need of ‘shading’ (methods used to avoid overheating and the greenhouse effect), and there is no need to color the glass to improve energy efficiency.
Gutai has even developed a more sophisticated version of the system by adding a heat pump, which can heat and cool the water depending on the season.
Image and content: Loughborough University via The Engineer