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Transparent window coatings to generate electricity

GNS Science is exploring cutting-edge technology to generate electricity from windows, which will significantly reduce carbon emissions and household energy bills.

Scientist at work in materials lab. Photo: Margaret Low

Cutting-edge materials could provide new ways of generating electricity. Photo: Margaret Low

This three-year collaboration aims to create an efficient and novel transparent thermoelectric material that can be coated on to windows to harvest electricity. The coatings would exploit temperature differences between the indoor and outdoor environment to produce the electricity used for indoor heating and cooling. 

New Zealand homes have approximately 4.5 million square metres of glass panels and windows, meaning the coatings could have wide-reaching benefits locally, as well as internationally. 

A key challenge in year one of the project is to develop a coating material that has thermoelectric properties, but that is also transparent enough to be used on windows. We will then build a proof-of-concept window-type device for energy harvesting and test it under simulated conditions. We will measure key parameters such as output power density, optical transparency and efficiency. 

Our researchers are working in collaboration with local and international partners including Victoria University of Wellington, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (USA), Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and New Zealand glass manufacturers. 

We intend to work with Māori businesses and others who may have the potential to take up the new technology. 

Funding for this project was awarded by the Government’s Endeavour Fund in 2018.