Thermochromic window shows its true colors as an energy generator and heat blocker

Before you head off into the weekend for some fall fun, I have a roundup of the top cleantech and climate tech news in the nation’s middle section, starting with a solar breakthrough from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Perovskite-based window technology. Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL

The NREL scientists devised a next-generation thermochromic window. Thermochromic items are temperature sensitive and change color when the temperature changes. The window generates electricity while reducing the need for air conditioning.

  • The thermochromic photovoltaic window can change color to block glare and unwanted heat from entering buildings on hot, sunny days.

  • Researchers’ breakthrough combines form and function: The color change can now occur at a variety of temperatures and in a lot of different hues, meaning architects and developers could choose which window colors to incorporate into their building design. An earlier thermochromic window version darkened to a reddish-brown color and had to reach 150-175 degrees Fahrenheit to trigger the transformation.

  • The technology creates electricity with embedded perovskites, crystalline structures that are highly efficient at harvesting solar energy.

  • Researchers say a prototype window could be developed within a year.


🥤 PLASTICS: A team of scientists led by Ames Laboratory developed a first-of-its kind catalyst that can break down polyolefin plastics — such as commonly used container components polyethylene and polypropylene — into high-quality components that can be reused for products including fuel.


  • Amazon’s Alexa Fund provided an undisclosed amount of seed funding for Chicago indoor hydroponics startup Rise Gardens (featured in Centered), reports Built In Chicago.

  • Eight of the 12 recipients of a collective $27 million in DOE funding for projects to develop advanced plastics recycling technologies went to Midwest businesses or research institutions, including the University of Akron, the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, and Skokie, Illinois-based LanzaTech.

🏃 ACCELERATOR: The Water Council in Milwaukee is accepting applications through November 29 for its BREW 2.0 accelerator for market-ready water technology innovators. The program is different from previous iterations in that it focuses on late-stage innovations and is virtual with a less intensive time commitment.

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