Research Frontiers Inc. (Research Frontiers), a US-based developer and licensor of suspended particle device (SPD) light-control technology, has announced the results of independent testing regarding the energy efficiency of SPD-Smart windows. The test results indicate that SPD-Smart windows have solar heat rejection and control capabilities. The tests were conducted by DSET Laboratories, in accordance with ASTM and ASHRAE testing and calculation protocols.

The energy efficiency of window products is of great importance in today’s world, commented Joseph M. Harary, president and chief executive officer of Research Frontiers. SPD-Smart products instantly give users the ability to control the amount of light, glare and heat entering a home, building, aircraft, boat or automobile. When compared to published data about the energy efficiency and other performance characteristics of all other types of windows offered for the architectural market – including other smart window technologies – we find none comparable to SPD-Smart windows.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that tintable smart windows can save building operators up to 40% on their energy bills, reduce the size of HVAC systems by as much as 25%, and reduce building operating costs by up to 20%. To maximize these savings, a smart window must be able to both reject and variably control the transmission of solar heat as well as visible light.

The testing of one type of SPD-Smart window indicates broad range in the amount of solar energy that can be instantly regulated. This type of window can reject 87% of the sun’s heat or allow 57% of it to be transmitted. The range of heat control is known of any window ever offered. Such performance can reduce cooling and heating costs particularly in northern climates by rejecting heat in the summer and transmitting heat in the winter. This window also has a good visible light transmission with a contrast ratio (the ratio of the darkest to the lightest states of the variable tint) exceeding 100:1.

In warmer regions, maximizing heat rejection lowers cooling costs. Test results on another type of SPD-Smart window, configured for these sunnier regions, indicate that up to 94% of heat from the sun can be blocked from entering.

At the Research Frontiers Annual Meeting, Joseph M. Harary gave a presentation on windows and energy efficiency, and provided highlights of the independent test results.

In addition to energy savings due to heat rejection and control, SPD-Smart windows offer additional energy saving capabilities for homeowners and building operators. One such area is daylight harvesting which involves the introduction of natural light to a building’s interior, thereby reducing the energy used for artificial lighting. Buildings account for an estimated 40% of the US’ total energy consumption and represent important targets for substantial gains in energy efficiency. According to the New Buildings Institute, efficient daylight harvesting can lead to annual savings on lighting energy of 35%-60%. With about 14% of the energy used in the US going towards interior lighting, this translates into estimated annual savings on energy used for interior illumination of between $20-$35 billion in the US alone. SPD-Smart windows offer daylight harvesting potential as compared to conventional window systems because of their variable light-control properties that can minimize artificial lighting needs and thus energy use.

Also presenting at the annual meeting were several other licensees of Research Frontiers. Jeff Besse, president of LTI SmartGlass, Inc., provided an overview of the company’s expansion, including the construction of a new 90,000 square foot production facility and showroom in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. This new plant increases LTI’s production capacity to more than 23,000 square feet of glass per week. Besse talked about the collaborative work LTI is doing with other Research Frontiers licensees and LTI’s ability to supply them with large volumes of laminated SPD-SmartGlass.

Tony Pirro, vice president of DIC International (USA), Inc., presented an overview of his company’s SPD emulsion production, supply and marketing programs. Currently DIC is supplying SPD emulsion to another Research Frontiers licensee, Isoclima S.p.A. This emulsion is coated into an SPD light-control film by Isoclima, which is now offering SPD-Smart end-products to various industries. Pirro also noted a recent expansion – DIC International (USA) has begun to market Isoclima SPD-Smart CromaLite glass and polycarbonate panels in the US.

Steve Abadi, chairman and chief executive officer of licensee Innovative Glass Corp., discussed a number of projects for its SPD-SmartGlass for interior and exterior architectural applications, and noted two significant developments related to these projects: the successful fabrication of large windows measuring 6 feet wide by 9 feet tall, and also the ability to retrofit existing windows to make them SPD-Smart. Innovative Glass expects details of these projects to be announced by them or their customers.

Harary also announced a new collaborative marketing program, with licensees InspecTech Aero Service and Hitachi Chemical, to expand market penetration in the SPD aerospace application. Aircraft manufacturer Hawker Beechcraft Corporation is now selling InspecTech’s SPD-Smart I-Shades, advanced light-control aircraft cabin window shades, for all models of its King Air aircraft, of which there are 6,200 flying today. To support this effort, Harary demonstrated the I-Shade (which is also currently being used in the A380 aircraft recently delivered by Airbus to airline customer Qantas Airlines) and previewed the marketing program’s magazine advertisement for King Air I-Shades, scheduled for July 2009.

Visitors at the Research Frontiers Annual Meeting were also able to see SPD-SmartGlass powered by photovoltaics, and experience first-hand how SPD-SmartGlass is used in automotive applications by sitting in a Cadillac CTS test vehicle equipped with two large SPD-Smart sunroofs and multiple SPD-Smart sunvisors that block glare and regulate the amount of heat and light coming into the vehicle.