Water-filled windows passively isolate buildings from sunlight

Water-filled windows passively isolate buildings from sunlight

Water-filled glass absorbs heat from sunlight

An innovative one window Prototype was developed by British startup Water-Filled Glass. The new assembly proposes the latest iteration of the well-known double-glazed insulating window, introducing a thin water membrane between two layers of glass. This imperceptible film of water absorbs heat from sunlight – or heat escaping from inside the building. Once heated, this water is pumped through a network of underground pipes through cooler areas of the building.

This patented technology was developed by Matyas Gutai, Lecturer in Architecture at Loughborough University, along with his colleagues Daniel Schinagl and Abolfazl Ganji Kheybari. Gutai founded the British startup in 2020 and previously worked for Japanese architect Shigeru Ban and in the research laboratory of Kengo Kuma at the University of Tokyo.

water-filled windowsWater House 2.0 at Feng Chia University in Taiwan | Images courtesy of Water-Filled Glass

British startup working on a passive architecture

Because window insulation strategies have long been a hurdle in the quest for passive architecture, the Water-Filled Glass team hopes this new technology can bring efficiency to even the most glassy buildings. According to British startup This method of thermal energy absorption not only warms indoor spaces in colder climates, but also limits the amount of solar heat entering a space in hotter climates. This reduces reliance on secondary shading and active heating and cooling systems – thereby reducing overall CO2 emissions.

To keep the water from freezing in winter, the assembly is converted to a triple-glazed window, the outermost cavity of which is filled with argon insulation. The water can be heated to a maximum of forty degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

Water-filled glass windows passively heat and cool buildings with sunlight

The team further estimates that the technology will reduce energy costs by about twenty-five percent compared to standard windows — depending on the climate and window-to-wall ratio. It is suitable for new buildings, but is even recommended for building refurbishment as an energy refurbishment, where it is installed behind the existing glazing.

water-filled windows
The new window system is particularly recommended for smaller rooms that heat up or cool down quickly

real applications

The team particularly recommends its water-filled glass system for smaller buildings that cool down quickly in winter or overheat in summer. Two pavilion prototypes have already been completed using the new technology, dubbed Water House 1.0 in Hungary and Water House 2.0 at Feng Chia University in Taiwan. Soon, the startup will complete its first commercial projects – an industrial building in Hungary and an apartment complex in the United States – which are currently under construction.

water-filled windowsThe thin film of water is optically imperceptible

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