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FLUIDGLASS Report Summary

Project ID: 608509
Funded under: FP7-ENERGY
Country: Liechtenstein

Periodic Report Summary 2 - FLUIDGLASS (FLUIDGLASS)

Project Context and Objectives:
Transparency is an important element of architecture and many large-scale buildings are equipped with more transparent area than it would be recommended from an energetic and comfort point of view. At the same time, it is crucial that the built environment in Europe is designed, built, operated and renovated with much higher energy efficiency. In commercial buildings cooling, heating and lighting account for combined 57% of the energy use, which represents more than 10% of the overall final energy consumption. Designing net-zero energy buildings has so far been limiting architecture: regarding the ratio of transparent and opaque parts and regarding the visual appearance. The main approach still relies on double and triple glazed windows to reduce these losses in combination with external solar blinds and internal heating and cooling systems.
Main concept of FLUIDGLASS (FG) is combining several functions in one singular transparent glazing system that are up to now separate components of the envelope. Beside high thermal resistance, the FG system will allow adjusting the solar and visual transmittance, absorbing solar energy and provide heating or cooling for the interior space. Consequently, FG is a shading, heating, cooling, insulating and energy collecting building component. This is technically achieved with two separate fluid circuits of which one is fed with a colorant that can be adjusted in concentration. The boundary conditions of this research project are that the final FG system needs to be a cost competitive product to comparable solutions and also in terms of LCA. FG can be understood as an important component towards more actively controlled and managed buildings that not only require energy for operation, but also generate energy, which can be used for the building itself or be fed to an low temperature district heating network. FG is deliberately not designed for one specific climate, but for hot, temperate and cold climate.
The project has been structured in several work packages (WP) with specific objectives.
The purpose of WP1 was to clarify technical boundary conditions and specifications, e.g. definition of system components, testing conditions, etc.
WP2 has been a core work package for the development of the FG collector, since all components (glazing unit, device to control fluid transmittance, fluid circuit, etc.) has been developed, designed and manufactured within this task. Final output of WP2 are functional collector prototypes.
The focus of WP3 has been the development of the framing of the FG element. Ultimate output of this WP is design and manufacturing of real scale façade mock-ups for the testing and dissemination purposes.
Within WP4, system integration has been planned. In addition, development of optimal combinations of the different system parts such as glazing unit, insulation, HVAC integration, thermal storage, etc. has been performed. A simulation was done on façade, building and district level that was also the base for LCA. Moreover, first prototypes of the different technologies and combining glazing with HVAC system for lab scale testing has been established as well as schematics of the system level including design guidelines.
Assessing of the properties of FLUIDGLASS both on the thermal and mechanical properties has been done in WP5. Testing has been performed on the major components of FLUIDGLASS in order to verify that all the requirements are fulfilled. Testing of the system assembly by implementing it in small test building (container) is one of the core activities within this WP.
After the specifications and design, the container will be assembled and his functionality will be tested in two climates – cold (Liechtenstein) and hot (Cyprus). Whole validation process will be performed in WP6.
Main objective of WP7 is to increase public awareness, introduce training for professionals, to develop a new business model and other communicational aspects of the project.

Project Results:
The partners in work package 1 (WP) defined all components of the Fluidglass (FG) element, frame and HVAC- and control system with specifications, requirements based on the state of project. The information is used in later WPs for the development of the component, the intransient simulations models and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Finally, a text matrix has been developed with the according partners.
The partners of WP2 dedicated considerable effort in the assessment of potential combination of colorant and fluid, a.k.a. colloid. This work included also building flow-cells and performing several temperature cycle tests. The partners developed hardware components of the FG element, i.e. connection between glass and fluid circuit, spacers that are less visible and a nozzle band which was changed to reach more homogenous dissolving of the colouring. The components have been installed in the second prototype, which has been tested in terms of leaking and operation. Furthermore, a manually operable distribution and separation device for the colorant that was already implemented in the prototype had been developed by the partners.
The partners in WP3 designed for two mock-up façades consisting of the full-scale element with a corner detail. The partners prepared the CAD-drawings of transom and mullion and a modular façade system according to the special needs of the fluid-filled-glazing. According to the design drawings the elements of the transom and mullion façade system have been produced and assembled on the test site of University of Stuttgart. For the testing container a suitable standard profile as frame system that is supporting the FG panes has been chosen and adapted by the partners. A detailed drawing of how this profiles can be implemented in the metal container structure was prepared for the container assembly.
The partners in WP4 performed an ecological and economical LCA, which allowed identifying critical aspects and components. Furthermore, the partners continued to improve the simulations previously developed. The VBA Fluidglass model is validated for second prototype with two fluid layers and the FG Type has been modelled to implement it in building simulation tool (TRNSYS). TRNSYS has then been used to model the specifics of the planned testing container and to run several different simulations to predict the thermal container performance for the locations Vaduz and Cyprus. In addition, definition of overall conditions for FG application has been performed to select the hydraulic components for the secondary and primary circuit.
Particularly, two thorough simulation models for the FG element were developed and validated, while detailed results on building simulation models and district level simulation were obtained. Control strategies and building integration was elaborated during the reporting period, influenced by the experiences gained through developing the first and second FLUIDGLASS lab-scale prototypes. In parallel, partner contributions to container design, specification and assembly in WP5 gave valuable insights to further elaborate on realistic control strategies and the design of the prototype controller. The prototype controller was delivered with a unified control strategy with FG elements and HVAC integration.
Thermal tests to assess the thermal efficiency of the two FG prototypes have been performed and fulfilled in WP5. Mechanical, thermal and water penetration test was performed for Transom and Mullion façade. Moreover, the mobile container whose base is a shipping container that is highly insulated and has two test rooms inside has been elaborated. The decisions making had been supported by thermal simulations of the different designs to get the most identical situation and boundary conditions of the two test rooms. Additionally, an exhibition sample has been created which serves as a showcase and can be used for dissemination purposes.

Potential Impact:
FLUIDGLASS (FG) is capable to react on changing environmental conditions by actively controlling the transmission of the solar radiation passing through the building envelope. This will allows to exploit solar gains and to avoid overheating. As a result, the need for cooling or heating will be reduced considerably without lowering or even increasing the thermal comfort.
The FG system acts as solar thermal facades, which is ideally for the use at building, but also on district levels. The advanced thermal building management allows embedding the building in energy networks at district level. FG is in particular tailored for the use in non-residential buildings (especially offices, educational, health care, retail and hotel/restaurant buildings), as these buildings can hardly be addressed with currently existing solutions. The FG technology covers a huge field of applications - throughout Europe, but even throughout the world. The total market for window and facade products in Europe (EU-27, Switzerland, Norway, Turkey) stood at 160 million m2 in 2010.
The solar fraction for heating will provide overall energy savings in buildings of up to 50% due to a better utilization of solar gains and the advanced thermal management capabilities. This will result in an energy saving potential of up to 50-70% for retrofitting and 20-30% compared to state-of-the-art in new low energy buildings. At the same time the fraction of glass of the building envelope will still be big and of high aesthetic quality.
Whereas current state-of-the-art systems require insulating facade elements, shading devices, solar collectors and an HVAC system, the FG setup bundles all elements into one, highly standardized system. It is expected that the final product results in a cost reduction of up to 15% compared to presently available state-of-the-art customized solar thermal facades, despite the current situation of higher cost for the built prototype. The redesign of the prototype shows considerable potential for cost reduction. Aiming for overall lower investment and operation cost (in comparison with equivalent solutions) will result in a competitive product.

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