A pair of University of Cincinnati researchers has seen the light a bright, powerful light and it just might change the future of how building interiors are brightened.
In fact, that light comes directly from the sun. And with the help of tiny, electrofluidic cells and a series of open-air "ducts," sunlight can naturally illuminate windowless work spaces deep inside office buildings and excess energy can be harnessed, stored and directed to other applications.
This new technology is called SmartLight, and it's the result of an interdisciplinary research collaboration between UC's Anton Harfmann and Jason Heikenfeld. Their research paper "Smart Light Enhancing Fenestration to Improve Solar Distribution in Buildings" was recently presented at Italy's CasaClima international energy forum.
"The SmartLight technology would be groundbreaking. It would be game changing," says Harfmann, an associate professor in UC's School of Architecture and Interior Design. "This would change the equation for energy. It would change the way buildings are designed and renovated. It would change the way we would use energy and deal with the reality of the sun. It has all sorts of benefits and implications that I don't think we've even begun to touch."
Major improvement through minimal adjustments
There's a simple question SmartLight addresses: Is there a smarter way to use sunlight? Every day the sun's rays hit Earth with more than enough energy to meet many of society's energy demands, but existing technologies designed to harness that energy, such as photovoltaic cells, aren't very efficient. A typical photovoltaic array loses most of the sun's energy when it gets converted into electricity. But with SmartLight, Harfmann says the sunlight channeled through the system stays, and is used, in its original form. This method is far more efficient than converting light into electricity then back into light and would be far more sust
|Contact: Tom Robinette|
University of Cincinnati