Substantial Growth Anticipated for Smart Windows Market


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Demand for smart windows, or windows with functional capabilities such as self-cleaning and variable tinting in response to electrical or thermal changes, will be driven by the green building movement, attraction to the convenience they provide and the potential for cost savings. NanoMarkets, a leading provider of market research and analysis of the opportunities in advanced materials and emerging energy and electronics markets, believes that the market for smart windows will grow substantially over the next eight years, becoming a billion-dollar market by 2015 and then more than doubling by 2018.

The following paper was drawn from a recently released report titled, Next-Generation Smart Windows: Materials and Markets: 2011

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Substantial Growth Anticipated for Smart Windows Market

  1. 1. NanoMarkets Substantial Growth Anticipated for Smart Windows Market A NanoMarkets White Paper Published September 2011 © NanoMarkets, LCNanoMarkets, LCPO Box 3840Glen Allen, VA 23058Tel: 804-360-2967Web:
  2. 2. NanoMarkets www.nanomarkets.netEntire contents copyright NanoMarkets, LC. The information contained in this report is based on thebest information available to us, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. NanoMarkets,LC and its author(s) shall not stand liable for possible errors of fact or judgment. The information inthis report is for the exclusive use of representative purchasing companies and may be used only by Page | 2personnel at the purchasing site per sales agreement terms. Reproduction in whole or in any part isprohibited, except with the express written permission of NanoMarkets, LC. NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-360-2967 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  3. 3. NanoMarkets www.nanomarkets.netSubstantial Growth Anticipated for Smart Windows MarketDemand for smart windows, or windows with functional capabilities such as self-cleaning andvariable tinting in response to electrical or thermal changes, will be driven by the greenbuilding movement, attraction to the convenience they provide and the potential for cost Page | 3savings. NanoMarkets, a leading provider of market research and analysis of the opportunitiesin advanced materials and emerging energy and electronics markets, believes that the marketfor smart windows will grow substantially over the next eight years, becoming a billion-dollarmarket by 2015 and then more than doubling by 2018. The following paper was drawn from arecently released report titled, Next-Generation Smart Windows: Materials and Markets:2011 Total Market for Smart Windows 3,000 2,500 2,000 $ Millions 1,500 1,000 500 0 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 © NanoMarkets, LCReal Smart TechnologiesToday there are three established smart window technologies in the marketplace:thermochromic, electrochromic and self-cleaning.Thermochromic windows reduce the amount of heat that enters through the glass andthus contribute to real energy savings in warm weather. Traditionally based on “cloud gel” NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-360-2967 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  4. 4. NanoMarkets www.nanomarkets.nettechnology, thermochromic windows have a thin plastic film inserted into the assemblythat becomes opaque (self-tints) when a specific temperature is reached, blocking light(and heat) from passing through the glass. While this temperature can be controlledthrough the choice of polymer in the film, it cannot be changed once installed in thewindow. Due to the visibility issue and the lack of on-demand variation, thermochromic Page | 4windows have largely been restricted to architectural applications such as skylights and talloffice buildings. Companies offering such products include Pleotint, Landec IntelligentMaterials, and RavenBrick.Thermochromic windows offer a less costly—but also less controllable—alternative toelectrochromic windows in applications where visibility is not critical. Like electrochromicwindows, these windows can limit the heat that enters a building from the outside, butthey automatically tint at a fixed temperature rather than allowing on-demand control.They are a good match for the sun-facing sides of buildings, where they reduce absorbedheat in the summer and on hot days. In transportation markets, they are most usefulwhere visibility is not critical—sunroofs in automobiles and passenger compartments inother types of vehicles.Electrochromic windows contain glass that is "switchable" or "dimmable" through the useof electricity. Liquid crystal suspended particle devices c (SPDs) contain molecular particlessuspended in a solution between plates of glass. In their natural state, the particles moverandomly and collide, blocking the direct passage of light. When in contact with anelectrical current, the particles align rapidly and the glazing becomes transparent. This typeof switchable glazing can block up to about 90 percent of light. Smart windows based onpolymer-dispersed liquid crystals (PDLCs) are translucent in the tinted state and scatterlight more than they block it, providing privacy while blocking a portion of the heat.GlasNovations is one company involved in this area. Other electrochromic technologiesoffered by SAGE Electrochromics and EControl Glas become more opaque than PDLCs,allowing just 2-3% light transmissions and thus have greater potential for energy savings,but are more expensive.Because electrochromic windows can be tinted on demand, they are generally consideredto be higher in value than thermochromic windows. They find use in numerous exteriorand interior architectural, automotive, and other transportation (airplanes trains, ships)applications. NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-360-2967 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  5. 5. NanoMarkets www.nanomarkets.netIn dollar terms, the biggest opportunities for smart coating firms are in supplyingelectrochromic coating materials to the smart window manufacturers. Electrochromicwindows alone will grow to well over a billion dollar market by 2018, and a significantportion of the cost of those windows will be the electrochromic coatings. Technicalopportunities include developing electrochromic coatings that are less costly and that Page | 5provide a broader dimmable range, which would drive faster adoption—and increasedsales of the materials. Electrochromic windows will produce the most revenue over thenext eight years. This is also the only smart window type that will find significant markets ineach of the application areas we have forecasted.Self-cleaning windows have either a hydrophobic (water repelling) or a hydrophilic (easilywettable) coating that helps water (from rain or manual spraying) clean off dirt or avoiddepositing dirt in the first place. Super-hydrophobic coatings mimic the behavior of thelotus leaf by creating a patterned surface that causes water to bead and minimize contact,thereby avoiding dirt deposition. Super-hydrophilic coatings cause water to sheet and carryaway dirt and debris. Some hydrophilic self-cleaning windows also contain titanium dioxide(TiO2), which acts as a photocatlyst when exposed to UV light and breaks down organicdirt that can then be more easily washed away.Because self-cleaning windows generally require water—and typically rainwater—to work,the market for this type of smart window is very much dominated by exterior architecturalapplications, but interest in niche interior uses (shower doors and enclosures, clotheswashers and dish washers) is growing, as is the use in vehicles. Self-cleaning windowsprovide substantial value to each of the application areas covered—except perhapsinterior architectural windows—through better glass clarity and reduced maintenanceeffort and cost.The opportunities are greatest for self-cleaning windows in the largest markets withweather-exposed windows, building exteriors and automotive windows. Technicalopportunities exist for self-cleaning smart coatings that provide products with superiorfunctionality, such as those that break down dirt—and perhaps non-organic kinds of dirt—more efficiently, especially if it can be done without direct sunlight.Possibly Smarter Technologies?Several other potential smart window applications are currently under development withvarying ranges of time to market. Glass repair is already quite common using special NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-360-2967 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  6. 6. NanoMarkets www.nanomarkets.netadhesives; it seems reasonable that such adhesives could be embedded appropriatelywithin the glass to provide self-repair functionality. This type of microencapsulationtechnology, in which microcapsules of a repairing agent are embedded in the glass, is notanticipated to reach the market for several years. Page | 6Significant opportunities for using self-cleaning and self-tinting glass with photovoltaicpanels of various sorts, including BIPV glass windows, is more likely in the near term. Self-cleaning PV panels have obvious benefits: reduced dirt buildup allows more sunlight to beconverted to electricity and less labor is required to keep the panels clean. "Smart" PVpanels could also be "dimmed" by shading via an electrochromic or thermochromic coatingon the panel.On the negative side, however, the necessary coatings often absorb significant amounts oflight themselves. The key for the self-cleaning market is to either use more transparentself-cleaning coatings for PV panels, or to use PV modules that make little use of thewavelengths that are absorbed by the self-cleaning coatings.For self-tinting panels, the coating could be placed on the backside of a semitransparentmodule with little effect on the PV conversion. Such smart panels represent an importantBIPV opportunity in which natural daylight can provide lighting into a building behind theBIPV panel, but could also be shaded to block the daylight, much as electrochromicwindows operate. Peer+ is developing such a product.Another possible new application is presented by OLED lighting. OLED lighting promises tobe made transparent or semitransparent, and hence could be combined with anelectrochromic coating similarly to the BIPV glass panel discussed above. Such a panelwould allow lighting with natural daylight when not tinted, but could also be tinted forprivacy or at night. The device would also provide artificial light when needed through theOLED lighting panel.And with such similar opportunities for PV panels and OLED panels using electrochromiccoatings, it also seems reasonable that both could be combined in a single device. Such adevice could bring together three distinct "green" technologies: PV power, the use ofdaylight for interior illumination, and energy-efficient OLED lighting, and this type ofproducts seems likely to have appeal in some circles. NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-360-2967 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  7. 7. NanoMarkets www.nanomarkets.netArchitectural OpportunitiesThe architectural windows market depends heavily on the overall construction market.This market is still struggling worldwide since the burst of the housing bubble, and willprobably continue to do so for several years. Smart windows suppliers will thus need to Page | 7focus on two areas: segments where the construction market is relatively better off, andretrofits of existing buildings.With its nuclear industry essentially crippled and energy costs high, Japan may be veryopen to novel technologies that promote energy efficiency as rebuilding efforts getunderway in the parts of Japan that have been devastated by the earthquake and tsunamiof 2011. Germany has long been home to strong "green" movements and renewableenergy deployments and these could also prove drivers for smart windows, especially inthe growing commercial property segment. NanoMarkets also expects China to be asignificant market for smart windows going forward, however many of these products mayultimately be made within China.Retrofits are a bit problematic for smart windows, as the coatings in a retrofit must beapplied to the outside of the pane and are thus subject to UV light and especiallyweathering far in excess of new installations, where the coatings can be applied to theinterior surface of the outer pane. In addition, applying the new film to existing glassexposes the full cost of the coating to the decision-making process. NanoMarkets,however, believes there are likely to be niche markets for retrofit films to make smartwindows out of ordinary ones, mainly for large commercial windows, where the cost ofremoving and reinstalling existing windows may be prohibitive.NanoMarkets also expects that, due to the significant differences between commercialand residential markets, distinct product lines will be developed for each. Furthermore,commercial users of electrochromic windows are likely to be first to do away with blindsand avoid their costs and associated aesthetics, although residential markets will alsoeventually switch to smart windows. In fact, self-tinting windows stand to capture asignificant share of the market for blinds, shades, curtains, etc. used primarily to block lightfrom passing through architectural windows.The growing interest in green-building will be a major driving factor for growth ofelectrochromic and thermochromic windows. The improvements in energy efficiencyprovided by smart windows are typically required to meet green certification NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-360-2967 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  8. 8. NanoMarkets www.nanomarkets.netrequirements, and they are often preferable to mechanical louvers or other, morecomplex, alternatives. In addition, smart windows seem as if they will have a major role toplay in the development and proliferation of net zero homes.The convenience provided by self-cleaning windows through reduced manual cleaning and Page | 8improved clarity will also be attractive to certain segments of the market. In businesssettings, the reduced labor has a definite value, while for residential owners, it is the timesavings that is appreciated.Importantly, smart window technologies will spill over into more mainstream buildingmarkets. Therefore, while smart windows will most likely remain but a niche of theconstruction glass industry, the architectural market is the largest segment of the smartwindows market, and that industry is so large that such a niche still means real money-making opportunities—on the order of more than a billion dollars in annual revenues by2018. Not surprisingly, most of those revenues will come from exterior applications. Whenconsidering the technology, electrochromic windows account for about 90% of sales.Automotive InterestSome of the best commercialization success stories have involved automatically dimmingrear-view mirrors and important up-and-coming applications are to be found in automotivewindows. And NanoMarkets expects the automotive market to begin using electrochromicglass in other places—like side windows and sunroofs—before too long. To increase theaddressable market in automobiles beyond mirrors, however, electrochromic smartcoating firms will need to improve response times, develop effective failsafe measures toprevent unexpected tinting and provide more precise control of tinting levels to addresssafety concerns related to visibility through most automotive windows.On-demand control of self-cleaning glass, though it will not emerge for a few years, willoffer even greater opportunities than electrochromic glass in the automotive market in thenext eight years. Because of the scope and importance of automotive window cleaning,NanoMarkets sees the automotive sector as the largest segment of the self-cleaningwindows market by 2018. By this time, revenues from automotive markets will in factbecome comparable to those from architectural markets. NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-360-2967 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  9. 9. NanoMarkets www.nanomarkets.netExpanding to New MarketsElectrochromic glass already has a foothold in commercial transportation markets withcontrolled shading windows in aircraft passenger windows and isolation screens for trainoperators. Increased penetration in these transportation markets is coming as costs come Page | 9down and awareness of their features goes up, along with new penetration into consumermarkets for appliances, household mirrors, and toys. The switchable functionality ofelectrochromic glass provides opportunities for suppliers to develop new, innovative usesfor some market niches. The market for thermochromic windows in other transportationsectors is proportionally larger than in the automotive segment because of the lesserimportance of controlled visibility in passenger compartments of other vehicles.Smart SellingSelf-tinting windows have been available for many years, but have never generated muchmoney for their suppliers, partially because they were not effectively marketed.NanoMarkets now sees opportunities for greater commercialization of smart windows asprices are coming down, materials are getting better, and companies are raising money. Inaddition, some companies are obscuring the cost of the smart coatings by combining themwith the high and variable cost of the glass on which they are used.In fact, smart windows benefit a great deal from the high cost of the glass itself. Becauseeven conventional architectural glass is quite expensive, for example, the cost ofsubstituting conventional windows with smart windows can seem smaller when comparedin relative terms, particularly when the dividing line between the cost of the glass and thecost of the smart functionality is blurred.For self-cleaning windows, the high cost has been a major limiting factor as the mainadvantages of using self-cleaning glass have been less quantifiable or smaller in value thanenergy savings. A major opportunity for self-cleaning window suppliers is to lower the costof the self-cleaning coatings and also focus on perceived cost by matching the coatingswith midrange glass such that the final product can be more comparable in cost to aconventional high-end window.For additional details about this report, please visit the NanoMarkets website or contact us via email at or by phone at804-270-4370. NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-360-2967 | FAX: 804-360-7259