The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I project is in the sustainable and economic retrofitting of low-performing older buildings toward improved economic, social and ecological impacts of built environments. More than half of all commercial buildings were constructed before the 1980s with lower energy standards. The owners and occupants of these buildings now often seek better energy management and air quality technologies. The microalgae window developed in this Phase I project is an energy-efficient, easy-to-install, adaptable modular unit for different retrofitting applications, able to compete with conventional windows due to its good air quality and renewable energy potentials. Gains in worker productivity from microalgae window retrofit are estimated to be substantial and building values at sale or rental are expected to increase significantly due to building envelope improvement.
This Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I project seeks to develop an innovative, cost-effective microalgae window for retrofitting low-performing commercial windows. Microalgae are an effective biological system for carbon capture and biomass production from photosynthesis. The microalgae window incorporates a network of screens filled with microalgae within a window assembly to replace or add to older windows for energy-efficient retrofitting. The microalgae screen within a window assembly is able to balance multiple functions of thermal insulation, daylight transmission, solar shading efficacy, and views to outside. Research objectives are to: 1) characterize the optimal microalgae window system for pre-1980 office retrofitting applications; 2) verify environmental performance using computer simulations and lab experimentation in accordance with industry standards; and 3) conduct field testing to evaluate building energy savings, indoor air quality improvement and renewable energy production potentials. The new microalgae window mitigates energy transfer between indoor and outdoor environments, subsequently reducing heating, cooling, lighting, and ventilation demands.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.