Western Australian scientists have developed what is believed to be a world-first clear, energy harvesting glass which, if used in greenhouses, could produce crops in any climate or season.
The glass is embedded with nanoparticles that work to draw out 90 per cent of the ultraviolet (UV) and infrared rays from the sun, and transfer those rays to solar cells embedded on the edge of the glass panels.
The rays are converted into energy, while allowing 70 per cent of visible light to pass through.
The energy harvested is used to power the structure, for example providing lighting, heating, cooling, or water desalination and irrigation.
The technology has been developed at Edith Cowan University’s Electron Science Research Institute (ESRI) in Perth.
Institute director Kamal Alameh said being able to convert unwanted radiation into electricity could be a huge cost-saver in greenhouses.
“In a closed environment you don’t need a lot of water, so you don’t need a lot of energy to filter the water if you have underground water,” he said.
“You also don’t need a lot of cooling and heating because we use these thin-film coatings to actually block the unwanted radiation, so that we can save on the energy used for cooling and heating.