SolTech Energy, a Swedish company selling solutions for clean solar power, was recently awarded “Hottest New Material 2010” for their unique home heating system contained within roofing tiles made out of ordinary transparent glass. The attractive house-warming tiles (somewhat ironically) give roofs a beautiful, icy appearance quite unlike anything else we’ve ever seen before.
In 2009, the SolTech Energy System was selected by a jury and nominated among nine as the year’s “Hottest New Material.” Based on votes by the people, the company’s glass tiles were awarded with a gold medal from the North Building Fair, Nordbygg. “The winning entry combines an attractive design with essential functions for clean and sustainable energy. It is an innovative product that is well in time,“ said the chairman of the jury, PhD. Bengt Toolanen.
So what makes the system so special and award worthy? For starters, the tiles are made from ordinary glass and have about the same weight as those made of clay. Secondly, the system doesn’t, like competitors’ versions, heat up water or vacuum pipes, but clean air. The tiles are installed on top of a black nylon canvas, under which air slots are mounted. The black colour absorbs heat from the sun and the air starts to circulate. The hot air is then used to heat up water, which is connected to the house’s heating system via an accumulator. The beauty of the system is that it cuts energy costs throughout the year, during dark winter days as well as night time, due to its capacity to store heat in the isolating layers of air under the canvas.
In an initial research phase the company collaborated with the Swedish glass mill Orrefors to develop the tiles. Today they are industrially produced in Portugal, but built on the same Swedish design.
The SolTech Energy System generates about 350 kWh heat per square meter (10 square ft), depending on climate, angle of the roof and cardinal direction. For additional technical data, visit SolTech Energy’s webpage.