Western students who are developing a transparent window that doubles as a solar panel recently won a $75,000 grant from the EPA to keep the project going.
The team of eight Chemistry, Engineering, Design and Business students – and one Chemistry student from the University of Washington – won first place in their category with their Smart Solar Window at the EPA’s P3: People, Prosperity and the Planet competition in Washington, D.C., April 13.
The window uses luminescent solar concentrator technology by means of a thin polymer layer containing luminescent quantum dots that harness energy from the sun and redirect it to photovoltaic cells at the edge of the window.
With the help of environmental sensors and wireless controls, the power is then used to automatically open and close the window synergistically with a building’s central HVAC system, reducing heating, ventilation and air conditioning costs by 10 to 30 percent.
Students will continue to work with their advisers, Chemistry Professor David Patrick and Marketing Associate Professor Ed Love, to develop the prototype and explore next steps to take the window to market.