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Development of an active film for smart windows with inkjet method.
Application to a building envelope component: autonomous smart device

Final Report Summary - SMARTBLIND (Development of an active film for smart windows with inkjet method.<br/>Application to a building envelope component: autonomous smart device)

Executive Summary:
The SmartBlind project aims to develop an energy efficient smart window. The window will include a hybrid film composed of an electrochromic film and a photovoltaic film printed onto a long-lasting flexible substrate. The realisation process will be implemented thanks to electrochromic and photovoltaic inks specifically formulated to be ink-jet printed.

Project Context and Objectives:
The consortium aims to produce a hybrid flexible film and energy saving window (with single or multiple panes) that could enter the new build and renovation markets. To promote an autonomous system, the consortium brings together many disciplines (including polymer chemistry and physics, electronics, modelling, building engineering and architecture) coming from public and private research ecosystems.

Project Results:
The SmartBlind project aims at the development of an energy efficient smart window. The window includes a hybrid device composed of electrochromic film and photovoltaic films.

The SmartBlind consortium has 4 main objectives:
1. To reduce the weight by 50% when compared with glass windows, while offering transparency and flexibility.
2. To improve the optical response time of windows while enabling the switching to larger panes.
3. To integrate an electronic control system with an embedded power source.
4. To guarantee a low-cost industrial solution adaptable to large and shaped surfaces.

The main steps of the programme include:
1. Specifications (WP1).
2. Basic materials: substrate treatment, formulation of electrochromic and photovoltaic inks adapted for ink jet printing (WP2).
3. Printing process (WP3).
4. Simulation and building integration (WP4).
5. Mechanical tests, ageing and Life Cycle Assessments (WP5).
6. Proof of concept (WP6).
7. Dissemination, exploitation (WP7).

The project was officially launched on 1st September 2012. Overall, the initial schedule has been respected from a technical point of view. Some tasks were rather ahead of schedule and others slightly delayed, which has not been prejudicial for the project.

An important point concerned the validation by the consortium of the specifications of the SmartBlind device. The device has been defined in detail considering possibilities and restrictions of the relevant technologies.

During the whole program, a major emphasis was given on the Basic EC and PV Materials and up scaling of inkjet printed samples and resulting cells. The inkjet process allowed validating basic materials and inks that will be used for up scaling. In parallel, several characterization methods of inks and deposit layers have been used.
The study of PV/EC repartition showed the need to precise the PV characteristics, and to know the acceptable surface ratio for the end user.

Regarding material layer superposition, a change in the position of the layers in the stack and the impact on the solar performances of the SmartBlind device has been studied.

An electronic system, allowing switching the EC thanks to a PV panel, was designed, built and used.

Architects involved in the SmartBlind project highlighted primarily visual comfort before thermal comfort. Simulations to achieve an acceptable value of glare and thermal comfort were done for several climates and several orientations during different seasons.
Several demonstrators were also built for new buildings, renovation buildings, and textile architecture. They show strong possibilities in textile architecture applications.

In more details, first simulations to achieve an acceptable value of glare have been done for several climates and several orientations during different seasons.
4 successive square meter glass window demonstrators were built in order to test the improvements proposed during the project. The tests to evaluate glare in real conditions showed great improvements brought by the smart window system. Several demonstrators were also built for textile architecture and also show strong possibilities in this field of application.

Mechanical and ageing tests were implemented. For Life Cycle Analyses-LCA and recycling, a systematic and deepened approach was followed. First “A4 size” prototypes of double-glazing windows including EC film or PV cells have been developed and tested: the optical and electro-optical methods of the windows and the assembling method were tested.

The exploitation plan shows that the commercialisation of some elements of the system (and not only the full innovative system) can allow widening the target market by diversifying market segments. A start up is now foreseen on connectors and the electronic system.
Dissemination activities included the successful and inspiring symposium on „Fiber-based Solutions for Energy and Construction“ at the DITF Denkendorf (20-21 May 2015).

Overall, the SmartBlind project was a very active and dynamic project all along its course. Debates took place and mitigation solutions were proposed when challenges were encountered. The SmartBlind project had to face many technical challenges, many of which were met and even exceeded, including the development of a start-up plan.

Potential Impact:
Dissemination and internal training activities:
Several internal workshops have been organized in combination with the General Assembly Meeting M18, M24 and M30. A second exploitation strategy seminar was held during the General Assembly Meeting M24 and a seminar on the Business model and plan took place during the General Assembly Meeting M36.
A very interesting international SmartBlind workshop was organised during the conference on „Fiber-based Solutions for Energy and Construction“ at DITF Denkendorf (20-21 May 2015). The Plan for Use and Dissemination of the Foreground- PUDF has been further updated.

Internal workshops - training:
Multi-disciplinary research and technologies are involved in the SmartBlind project. This generates an inevitable need in the consortium for individuals understanding the multi-disciplinary research field. At the start of the project a poll was launched to collect needs in the various fields.
In total 14 workshops have been organised. The Annual technological reports Verbatum 12 and 24 give a detailed overview of the workshops held in the period M3 and M24.

1. Numerical modelling, energy and daylight simulation - part 1 (WP4)
2. Control strategy, use of platform BCVTB, simulation tools - part 2 (WP4)
3. The design of smart window with Electrochromic Layer and the control system design of Electrochromic layer (LODZ)
4. Life Cycle Analyses (DITF-ITV)
5. Artificial ageing - part 1 (LEITAT)
6. Artificial ageing - part 2 (DITF-ITV)
7. Building Integrated Photovoltaics BiPV integration conditions (oriented to the French case) (CEA)
8. Basics on Electrochromic devices (POLYMAGE)
9. Testing of transmission, reflection in VIS, NIR, MIR of films (DITF-ITV)
10. Colour measurement (DITF-ITV))
11. ETFE material properties and their uses in architecture (IASO)
12. Basics on Inkjet Printing technology (ARDEJE)
13. Basis of energy efficiency in buildings and occupants comfort applied to windows (VUB)
14. PV materials and devices, characterization (LEITAT)

International workshop:
Beside the internal trainings an international workshop was organised (DITF - VUB) for a European relevant audience. The very interesting international SmartBlind workshop was organised during the symposium on ”Fiber-based Solutions for Energy and Construction“ at the DITF Denkendorf (20-21 May 2015).
At the symposium various new developments as well as knowledge based on experience were presented. On the second day almost 60 audience member listened to high-interesting lectures about energy management for buildings with textile solutions such as the Polar Bear Pavilion presented by Thomas Stegmaier (DITF) or shading systems presented by renowned experts from the industry.
Afternoon lectures had concerned with flexible photovoltaics and with the topics related to the SmartBlind project. Mr. Sixou (POLYMAGE) introduced the SmartBlind project in a very interesting kind. Pedro Almeida (FFCT) abducted into the fascinated world of liquid crystals. Ulrike Bolz (DITF) comment on the environmental aspects of the newly developed SmartBlind window construction. Feike Reitsma (IASO) impressed with large constructions of textile roofs and the possibility to integrate the SmartBlind shading system (See link for the presentations
During the breaks and after the lectures there was the possibility to exchange information and knowledge with the speakers and the audience. Creativity and a rich potential for new applications were in the air.

An exploitation plan has been developed and iteratively improved: several versions of the PUDF have been discussed during the General Assembly Meetings. The final version has been discussed during the final General Assembly meeting in Valence.
It showed that the commercialisation of some elements of the system (and not only the full innovative system) could allow widening the target market by diversifying market segments. This exploitation strategy could create more competitiveness, business and jobs than a strategy exclusively based on the full innovative system. Several sub-results were obtained but the consortium chose to particularly push two of them: connectors and electronic devices, and to support the setup of a start-up proposed by a SmartBlind partner (more details are provided below). The advice of the invited Advisory board also allowed to better focus on SmartBlind impacts and market strategy.

During these 36 months 10 Exploitable Results have been detected. During the General Assembly Meeting in Brussels (M30) two of them have been selected to enter the market. The partner LODZ is preparing a start-up plan for both ERs (ER2: Connectors; ER6: Electronic Control devices). During the General Assembly Meeting in Valence (M36) a final seminar was organised. The EC expert Mr Giovanni Zazzerini, gave an introduction on Business model and Business plan. Prior to this seminar the partner LODZ together with the EC Expert, POLYMAGE, FCCCO and VUB formalised the "start-up" plan which has been further re-examined and completed during this seminar.

The list of exploitable results was iteratively developed throughout the project, based on consortium debates and expert interventions (Exploitation Strategy Seminars).
• Exploitation Strategy Seminar 1 (M12): Selection of 4 exploitable results.
• General Assembly Meeting (M18): Selection of 2 extra exploitable results (4+2).
• Exploitation Strategy Seminar 2 (M24): Selection of 1 extra exploitable result (6 +1).
• General Assembly Meeting (M30): Selection of 3 extra exploitable results (7+3).

Different types of exploitable results can be defined. These are new technologies or products, new combinations of existing technologies and know-how.

Some ERs contain the full equipped "Smart Window" (ER1) or the reduced version with an on-off switch and without connectors, solar cells and battery (ER10). Others consist in a set of components (products, technologies and know-how) with applications beyond the smart window (ER2, ER3, ER4, ER5, ER6, ER7, E8 and E9).
• ER1: Smart Window - global solution
• ER2: Connectors
• ER3: Flexible film
• ER4: Modelling framework
• ER5: Flexible PV
• ER6: Electronic Control devices
• ER7: Wood-cork frame
• ER8: Methodology/Service towards standardised conditions
• ER9: material characterisation method/training
• ER10: Smart Window - reduced version without connectors, solar cells and battery, focus on the active film and ON/OFF switch

Each ER has its own background, foreground & exploitation interest that was well defined in agreement with the consortium. The time to be ready to go to the market is different for each ER. During the General Assembly Meeting M30 it was decided that the ERs which are the closest to the market should be selected first. So the decision was taken to target one ER which will allow collecting specific and straight-to-the point information able to lead to market penetration. The "quick win" should be identified.

As LODZ participates to ER2 and ER6 and has personal contact points with textile companies it could be a successful strategy to investigate this market and opportunity to set-up a start-up.
During the final M36 General Assembly meeting a Business model and plan seminar has been organised. Prior to this seminar the partner LODZ together with the EC Expert (Mr Zazzerini), POLYMAGE, FCCCO and VUB formalised its "start up" plan.

List of Websites:
The public website provides information on the SmartBlind project.
It consists in different topics such as Home; News; Partners; Other smart window projects; Dissemination (brochures, presentations of the SmartBlind international workshop Denkendorf, papers, abstracts, posters....); Calendar.

Partners participated to events related to the SmartBlind project, such as the topics on Energy Efficient Buildings. For some of these events the Partners have prepared a poster, abstract or paper. Papers have been also written to be included in scientific journals.

Name, title and organisation of the scientific representative of the project's coordinator:
Dr Pierre Sixou
Technical Director
Tel: +33 4 93 88 17 25