Researchers at Guardian Industries have recently unveiled a new breed of vacuum-glazed super glass with an incredible R12-R13 insulation rating. That’s an incredible insulation value for glass – typical brick and plaster walls usually have an R12 rating, and glass is usually rated R1 or R2. Using the same principle as a vacuum thermos bottle, these glass panels essentially negate two principal modes of heat transfer.

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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”.

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

+ Guardian Industries


Infrared Image of Vacuum glass

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