Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends
How new technologies are modifying our way of life

dimanche 12 septembre 2004

In "Technology at your service," Australian IT looks at how some emerging technologies will improve our lives. The list goes from solar-powered robotic lawn mowers, network-controlled appliances such as microwaves or air-conditioners, to even full houses. For example, in the MajikHouse, all the home's systems, such as heating, electricity or entertainment are wirelessly controlled via touchscreen panels and smart phones. There is also the NanoHouse, co-developed by CSIRO and the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). The NanoHouse is a new type of ultra-energy efficient house using the new materials being developed by nanotechnology such as self-cleaning glass or dye solar cells. The NanoHouse is currently a concept going from one exhibit to another. But prototypes should appear in 2007 while manufacturing should start around 2009. Read more...

Here are some details about the self-cleaning glass.

The self-cleaning glass uses nanotechnology, which is the design and fabrication of objects with dimensions in nanometers, or a billionths of a metre.
A film of titanium dioxide is applied to the glass. When ultraviolet light hits the photocatalytic substance, it produces a charge that will break down any organic particles in contact with it.
The organic matter is washed off by rain -- a process helped by a hydrophilic component of the film.
Unfortunately it is only effective against organic-based dirt, which is common in urban settings. It is not useful for dealing with airborne sea salt or dry outback dust, and it does need rain.

You can find additional details on this material by visiting this page about the Pilkington Activ self-cleaning glass and checking how it works.

Two views of the NanoHouse Here are two views of the NanoHouse. (Credit: UTS)

Even if it's surrounded with glass walls, the NanoHouse doesn't need any curtains.

[This] glass can be made almost opaque at the flick of a switch with SPD (suspended particle device) glass. It can be done manually with a switch, or automatically by attaching a sensing device and a controller, in much the same way street lights go on when it becomes overcast. The technology uses particles dispersed in a liquid or in droplets encapsulated in a thin plastic film.
The particles align, allowing light to pass through when a charge is applied to a coating of electrically conductive transparent material. The particles return to random positions and block light when there is no charge.
SPD glass can be used as substitute curtain for privacy. Other glass technologies are available to fill the insulation role of curtains. So, you can say goodbye to cleaning of glass and curtains.

For more information about the Nanohouse Initiative, you can read this large document (PowerPoint format, 32 slides, 22.4 MB). The above images come from this presentation.

Sources: Vincent Blake, Australian IT, September 7, 2004; and various web pages

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