Scientists reveal energy-saving ‘liquid window’ concept

6 Nov 2020

From left: Dr Long Yi and PhD student Wang Shancheng with the ‘liquid window’. Image: NTU Singapore

This week in future tech, scientists in Singapore have revealed a ‘liquid window’ that can block out sunlight while trapping and releasing thermal heat.

Windows of the future could be a lot more than a pane of glass following a new breakthrough made by researchers from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore).

Publishing their findings to Joule, the researchers described a liquid window panel that can simultaneously block the sun to regulate solar transmission, while trapping thermal heat. It can be released through the day and night, helping to reduce energy consumption in buildings.

In simulations, the hydrogel-based liquid within the glass panels was found to reduce energy consumption by up to 45pc compared with traditional windows. The researchers also found the concept to be 30pc more energy efficient than commercial energy-efficient glass, while being cheaper to make.

“Sound-blocking double-glazed windows are made with two pieces of glass, which are separated by an air gap,” said first author of the study, Wang Shancheng.

“Our window is designed similarly, but in place of air, we fill the gap with the hydrogel-based liquid, which increases the sound insulation between the glass panels, thereby offering additional benefit not commonly found in current energy-saving windows.”

ZiggyTec partners with Dublin City Council on smart buoys

Dublin-based company ZiggyTec has been chosen as one of four bidders to complete the first phase of Smart Dublin’s Ring Buoy Monitoring project. The initiative, run in conjunction with Dublin City Council, aims to help curb ring buoy theft across the capital to help save lives.

ZiggyTec is an internet of things (IoT) company that provides real-time data on health and safety equipment, utilities and air quality. Smart Docklands estimated that up to 15 ring buoys are stolen each week in Dublin with 600 needing replacement each year.

ZiggyTec said that when one of its smart ring buoys is removed from its housing, a security connector will detach from the device and automatically send an alert to local first responders so they can dispatch a unit to the vicinity immediately.

“The availability of smart buoys across the country is something we remain passionate about,” said ZiggyTec co-founder Kieran Murphy.

“Having spent six years as a lifeguard, I am fully aware of the need for speed when it comes to response times and rescuing someone in difficulty in water. With more people taking part in lockdown swimming sessions, I believe we need a more efficient means of monitoring our life buoys to ensure we are maximising the speed of assistance.”

Companies agree deal to beam 5G from drones in stratosphere

UK-based Stratospheric Platforms and Cambridge Consultants said they plan to provide total 5G coverage to the ground using approximately 60 drones flying at more than 20,000 metres in altitude.

According to the BBC, the aircraft built by Stratospheric Platforms would be powered by hydrogen fuel and could fly continuously for nine days at a time. Each drone would be able to cover an area of 140km on the ground where users connected to the signal would be able to receive download speeds of 100Mbps.

Both companies said that they have already successfully tested the platform from a lower altitude and at a lower-bandwidth signal. Deutsche Telekom has reportedly agreed to trial the technology in rural southern Germany in 2024.

Stratospheric Platforms’ chief executive, Richard Deakin, claimed that terrestrial 5G masts are “extremely expensive” to install and that each of its aircraft could replace 200 masts.

Industrial IoT connections to reach almost 37bn by 2025

Juniper Research has estimated that the global number of Industrial IoT connections will increase from 17.7bn in 2020 to 36.8bn in 2025. In a recent report, it identified smart manufacturing as a key growth sector of the industrial IoT market over the next five years. This will account for 22bn connections by 2025.

Furthermore, private 5G services will be seen as crucial to maximising the value of a smart factory to service users, by leveraging the technology to enable superior levels of autonomy amongst operations.

80pc of the global industrial IoT market value will be attributable to software spend by 2025, according to research author Scarlett Woodford, reaching $216bn.

“Manufacturers must exercise caution when implementing IoT technology; resisting the temptation to introduce connectivity to all aspects of operations,” she said. “Instead, manufacturers must focus on the collection of data on the most valuable areas to drive efficiency gains.”

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic