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SPD Glass Lowers Emissions and Keeps Cabins Cooler

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The luxury glass that was once a premium feature on high-end convertibles might soon be an available option on the next new vehicle you buy.  Research Frontiers, a nanotechnology research firm, gets the credit for developing and licensing the type of film that this “smart glass” uses. 

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SPD-Smart Glass

The company’s smart glass relies on suspended particle device — or SPD — light-control technology for its light-blocking properties. This takes the form of a film that integrates with a vehicle’s glass surfaces.

Research Frontiers’ film is a high-tech layer that sandwiches between the two glass layers of a window. The company then coats the glass with a conductive layer.

You can use a remote to apply voltage to the conductive material, to turn the film’s light-blocking technology on and off, as needed. When “on,” a small electric current runs through the film causing the microscopic particles to align. This, in turn, blocks up to 99.5 percent of the light and 95 percent of the heat coming through the glass. When “off,” the electric current stops, allowing the particles to return to their original unaligned layout. The glass then returns to its normal level of transparency. 

Lower cost, more widespread implementation

So far, the SPD-Smart Glass has been a pricy option for vehicles to have. But now that a second supplier, Israel’s Gauzy LC, recently started producing the film, its cost should drop significantly. This would enable more automakers to add it to mainstream models at an affordable price. At present, 25 future electric vehicle models will incorporate the SPD glass. 

It’s likely that more manufacturers will turn to this new technology, to reduce production costs and improve the efficiency of their models. Per USA Today, the heat-reductive properties of the smart glass could allow automakers to shrink AC compressors by as much as 40 percent. That would lower the vehicle’s overall price and weight. It could also help boost an EV’s battery range by 5.5 percent when it’s hot outside. 

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News Sources: USA Today, How Stuff Works,