AkzoNobel, consortium develop “colourful” method to harvest energy for buildings

The ENVISION project, part of the EU’s Horizon 2020,  is going beyond the solar panels found on roofs in an attempt to harvest energy from all building surfaces (both transparent and opaque), without having to compromise on aesthetics.

A solution for absorbing near-infrared light (NIR) via special panels already exists, but these panels are only available in one colour – black. So AkzoNobel’s coatings experts got to work and are developing technology which can capture heat using lighter and brighter colours. Dutch company BAM and research organisation TNO are also partners in the project.

“Black facades aren’t attractive to most people, so we’ve come up with an innovative solution which allows heat to be captured by colours that traditionally reflect NIR,” explains Anthonie Stuiver, the AkzoNobel senior scientist who is working on the project.

He adds that the company is also looking to create different pigment effects, as well as the more familiar brick and wood patterns found on most houses. “It’s a practical and sustainable solution for making buildings energy positive – and existing houses more climate-friendly – which also gives consumers freedom of colour choice,” Stuiver continues.

“This is the first time that a concept of this kind has been developed,” According to Bart Erich, researcher and project coordinator from partner TNO, the concept that has been developed is a first of its kind. “Theoretically the concept is very simple. The challenge has been how to convert and store the energy so that it can be used efficiently, “ he said.