Mike Chino

Revolutionary Super-Insulating Vacuum Glass!

by , 03/24/08
filed under: Green Materials

Guardian Vacuum Glass, Super insulated glass, hyper insulated glass, low-e glass, insulating glass, double-paned glass, R12 glass, vacuum glass, argon glass, transparent insulation, translucent insulation, Guardian Industries

Researchers at Guardian Industries have recently unveiled a new breed of vacuum-glazed super glass with an incredible R12-R13 insulation rating. For those of you who know nothing about R-value (the standard construction measurement of how insulating a material is), this is an incredible insulation value for glass. Typical insulation brick and plaster walls usually have an R12 rating, and glass usually gets a R1 or R2. That means this new vacuum glass is as insulative as a thick insulated wall. Using the same principle as a vacuum thermos bottle, these glass panels essentially negate two principal modes of heat transfer, paving the way towards windows that actually supply thermal energy instead of leaking it.


Take a look at any of the latest silver, gold, and platinum LEED superstructures and you’ll see a striking visual metaphor at play. As paragons of sustainable architecture they literally shine, sparkling with the glossy grandeur of glass encrusted façades. Now consider the fact that “Windows in the U.S. consume 30 percent of building heating and cooling energy, representing an annual impact of 4.1 quadrillion BTU of primary energy” ¹. In order to make these towers work, insulated glass is used, but it’s expensive, heavy, and requires triple glazing and multiple low emissivity coatings.

Vacuum double-panbe glass

Using the same principle as a vacuum thermos bottle, researchers at Guardian industries have created a thin .25mm space between two sheets of glass that is vacuum-sealed to 10–4 torr. This vacuum mitigates the two principal modes of heat transfer – conduction and convection, while a ClimaGuard low-E coating polishes the panel off, significantly reducing heat loss via radiation. The glass panels are marvelously thin, at .26 to .43 inches, and can be reinforced for an added R1-R5 insulation value.

Stephen Selkowitz (an author of the above cited study) has lauded the development, stating: “This performance level would convert most windows in heating climates into net energy suppliers, providing more energy to the home via passive solar gain than the window loses”.

“If you could convert every window [in the U.S.] to this performance level, you would save homeowners about $15 billion each year.”

Guardian hopes to roll out these new vacuum-sealed vitrines in 2009.

+ Guardian Industries

Via BuildingGreen.com


Infrared Image of Vacuum glass

¹ Steve Selkowitz, Dariush Arasteh, Josh Apte, Marc LaFrance, “Zero Energy Windows”, EETD Conference, 2006. p. 1.

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14 Comments

  1. Are Low-E Windows Melti... August 6, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    [...] Newspaper recently shared some surprising news suggesting that new low-E windows could be responsible for melting the vinyl siding on neighboring homes. Reflections from the [...]

  2. greenbuilding June 24, 2010 at 11:25 am

    I think it’s a great technology but until we see the prices drop there won’t be mass adoption of this product. Having this type of window would save a homeowner money. I just wonder how long it will take to make up this cost. If it isn’t long then I could see widespread adoption quicker.

  3. romur1 April 7, 2010 at 4:23 am

    This “new” technology was developed by The Rocky Mountain Institute in the early 1980″s

  4. Ric January 10, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    What’s with the uneven spacing? If you look closely you can see that the dots are not in straight lines. Also why not put a clear plastic spacer rather than an opaque plastic one. the dots would be less visually obtrusive if they were clear.

  5. Find Your Next Project:... March 27, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    [...] folks at Inhabitat recently found vacuum-glazed super glass designed by researchers at Guardian Industries. They’ve [...]

  6. Find Your Next Project:... March 27, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    [...] folks at Inhabitat recently found vacuum-glazed super glass designed by researchers at Guardian Industries. They’ve [...]

  7. mbartosik March 25, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    R12 windows are not new. The new thing is getting the thickness down. I have R11.6 windows (1 3/8″ thick IGU) and they are great, and not disproportionately more expensive. Mine are made by AlpenEG (www.alpeneg.com). To put R11.6 into context when the temp outside is freezing the temp on the inner plane is only about 1F less than my 2×4 walls. I throughly recommend AlpenEG. I could not care less about thickness, so I would prefer the thicker unit to the dots.

  8. jeanX March 25, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    I have already lost the vacuum in one window, installed around 1994?
    Are the dots visible?

  9. mbartosik March 25, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Alpen (www.alpeneg.com) already have R15 windows, I have some of their R11.6 windows and they are great, and affordable.

  10. kbpratt March 25, 2008 at 9:46 am

    The idea of evacuating the cavity in an IGU has been around a long time – its just that the pressure differential makes it very difficult to do w/o the glass bowing inward. Looks from the photo that the dots are structural supports for the glass… The problem with this kind of technology is really its longevity – how long before the vacuum fails because air leaks in? Think about how even regular IGUs have problems maintaining their seals through hundreds of thermal cycles. And how do you design a building when the U value of the windows is probably going to change significantly over time?

  11. hugo hugo March 25, 2008 at 5:18 am

    I very much love this concept. It is as straightforward as it is green. I think the glass will be suitable for replacement glass for normal windows. This could well be the biggest innovation in “green” building for decades to come.

    In a few years the price will drop to an affordable level and application will be unlimited. That is, if there will be more then one provider…

  12. Amazing insulating glas... March 24, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    [...] in Daily life, Global warming, Technology at 7:44 pm by LeisureGuy Very cool: Researchers at Guardian Industries have recently unveiled a new breed of vacuum-glazed super glass [...]

  13. LivingSpaceBuilders.com LivingSpaceBuilders.com March 24, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    Absolutely love this innovation; this upgrade couldn’t come soon enough. Our company is currently building showcase green home in Michigan and we were just looking at all of our window options. This level of efficiency will truly revolutionize the energy consumption of homes and businesses. Windows bothered us for a long time, since even the most efficient windows today are simply not efficient enough to mach rest of the high-tech building components of a green home.

  14. Nick Simpson March 24, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    From the one photo available it doesn\’t look like this would work in normal windows, but simply as a means of allowing in light, at that level of insulation, this is brilliant. I expect the cost is pretty high but it\’ll drop. With so much heat lost through glazing this could make a big impact, given time.

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