Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley are working on a new set of smart curtains that could cut your energy usage in half. Made from fabric embedded with carbon nanotubes, the curtains would respond to light, automatically closing when the sun’s rays are their strongest. The smart curtains work without batteries, electricity, or an operating system, which could save large office buildings significantly in energy costs.
[youtube width=”537″ height=”400″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZ39p1m7-Wg[/youtube]
Many energy efficient buildings install light-activated curtain and shade systems, which open and close in reaction to heat and light throughout the day. But the smart curtains being developed by the University of California are even more simple than these energy-saving systems. These smart curtains operate independently, without the need for the installation of a sophisticated system.
The curtains themselves are made from layer upon later of carbon nanotubes, which are adhered to a plastic polycarbonate membrane. As light is absorbed by the nanotubes and converted to heat, the plastic backing expands, which moves the curtains, blocking heat further from entering through the window. The smart curtains have already proven to be highly sensitive, and react to even low intensity light, which would make for the best energy efficiency.
Researchers believe that outfitting large office buildings with these smart curtains could reduce a company’s air conditioning bills by half over the course of a year.