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Smarter, cleaner, greener

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Product development in the building industry is continually advancing, with new options promising a heap of benefits, from improving occupant health to more affordable smart products. Here are a few finds that are in the research phase and here right now to try.

Spray your smart windows

Spray-on clear coatings to enable cheaper smart windows could be coming our way, thanks to a simple method developed by researchers at RMIT University.

The spray-on coatings, which can block heat and conduct electricity but still allow visible light through, are ultra-thin, cost-effective and rival the performance of current industry standards for transparent electrodes, the scientists claim.

Lead investigator Dr Enrico Della Gaspera said their fast and scalable pioneering approach could be used to substantially bring down the cost of energy-saving windows and potentially make them a standard part of new builds and retrofits. ‘Smart windows and low-E glass can help regulate temperatures inside a building, delivering major environmental benefits and financial savings, but they remain expensive and challenging to manufacture,’ he said. 

The standard approach for manufacturing transparent electrodes is based on indium – a rare and expensive element – and vacuum deposition methods, which are bulky, slow and costly. But RMIT’s researchers used the much cheaper material tin oxide in their testing, spiked with a combination of chemicals to enhance conductivity and transparency.

The ultra-thin transparent coatings, which are over 100 times thinner than a human hair, only allow visible light through, while blocking both harmful UV light and heat in the form of infrared radiation.

‘We’re keen to collaborate with industry to further develop this innovative type of coating. The ultimate aim is to make smart windows much more widely accessible, cutting energy costs and reducing the carbon footprint of new and retrofitted buildings.’

The ultra-thin clear coatings are made with a new spray-on method that is fast, cost-effective and scalable

RMIT University

Light sanitiser

When the world is in the grip of a health pandemic, products that work to clean the air you breathe are a welcome find. One such product, designed by Italian company OLEV, is a unique lighting solution that sanitises interiors while also ensuring the safety and wellbeing of occupants.

OLEV says its Pure BioAir lamp uses technology that exploits the bactericidal power of UV-C light, which is effective in counteracting the spread of viruses, bacteria and pathogenic microorganisms. To offer maximum protection to occupants, the suspended lamp channels the air within its body and filters it through an integrated UV-C light source hidden inside the light’s housing (unlike common germicidal lamps which emits rays directly). 

The product’s technology enables it to achieve a level of germicidal efficiency equal to 79 per cent – meaning that over an eight-hour period, Pure BioAir can filter all the air within a 30-cubic-metre office. OLEV says its surface treatment was also carefully studied; a transparent anti-bacterial film based on microencapsulated silver ions provides effective protection against 99.99 per cent of germs and bacteria.

This lighting solution also sanitises interiors


Hardwood replicate from waste

Turning a waste by-product into a genuine replicate of its original state has got to be the holy grail of product manufacturing. After six years developing a technology to do just that with wood waste, Australian company 3RT, in collaboration with Flinders University in South Australia, launched its first commercial product, Designer Hardwood. 

The technology transforms waste timber residues, which would otherwise be wood chipped, into timber that looks and performs like 100-year-old tropical hardwood. The process uses a water-based ‘nano-glue’ that is mixed with the waste wood to replicate the properties of mature natural hardwood.

3RT achieved international recognition with a gold medal in the 2019 Good Design Awards and continues to manufacture the ‘smartwood’ products, including flooring, stairs, doors and panelling, using its prototype commercial unit at its Adelaide innovation centre. Now, the company has entered an agreement with Bosch – one of the world’s leading advanced manufacturing companies – which will allow it to boost its own capacity and license the units to companies overseas. 

3RT Managing Director Peter Torreele said the licensing units would be ideally suited to Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) and plywood producers that used plantation resources and generated a lot of wood waste.


This is a Creative Commons story originally published by The Lead South Australia.

Access the full story www.theleadsouthaustralia.com.au