Researchers Develop Spray-On Glass Coating Technology

November 4, 2011

The Industrial Technology Research Institute, said to be Taiwan’s largest high-tech research and development institution, is looking to commercialize Spray-IT, a  thermal spray coating for use on glass and other building materials to lower energy costs. The technology is being recognized with a 2011 Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Award.

ITRI says its spray coating provides a low cost alternative to traditional glass coating technologies. 

ITRI says the coating can be applied easily to windows on existing or new buildings via an inexpensive high-pressure spray mechanism to block harmful UV rays into and heat leakage out of buildings. It uses different materials to achieve low-cost, high-insulation performance unlike the typical silver needed for traditional window and thermal coatings. An inexpensive lithium-fluorine co-doped tin oxide coating material called LiFTO, suitable for spraying directly onto glass or tile surfaces, forms the insulation layer, the organization notes. The LiFTO coating can be applied easily either indoors or in open-air conditions. Both manufacturing of the coating material and deployment are easy and economical, making it more affordable for businesses and individuals to use the technology to reduce energy bills.

"Our multilayer coating product for glass offers similar IR reflective performance as that of the three layer silver coating with no difference in optical transmission," says Dr. Tzer-Shen Lin, division director for ITRI’s Electronic Materials & Devices Research Group. "However, our coating is much more robust and can be handled without any special precaution and can be used as the exterior surface of a double or triple pane window construction if needed."

Currently, the technology is geared toward factory application for glass or other types of inorganic substrates such as ceramic tiles, Lin reports. Development is underway for on-site application. "We expect to complete the applicator development within 18 months," he continues. "We envision that the application machine will be mounted on a pre-constructed metal scaffolding. The machine will be moving along the track to coat the entire building if needed. Like any other type of coatings, the surface needs to be pre-cleaned to ensure good coating adhesion."

ITRI, a non-profit organization employing more than 5,000, has offices throughout the world and long-term collaborative arrangements with MIT, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of California at Berkeley and Stanford University. Globally, it has 23 international cooperations with major companies such as IBM, HP, Microsoft, Nokia, Sun Microsystems, Kodak, Lucent and Motorola, it also reports.

In order to start commercializing its coating technology, ITRI will start the licensing efforts next year with companies in Taiwan initially, and then expand internationally.  While the coating is currently being used primarily on glass and tile surfaces, alternate uses are being tested. These include use as thermal insulation for solar panels to decrease panel temperature for improved electricity generation, and on cars, buses and trains for better air-conditioning efficiency.

“Managing energy consumption is critical, especially in warm and cool climates where offices and homes, without proper thermal insulation, present a huge draw on the energy grid,” Lin concludes. “ITRI’s Spray-IT thermal insulation coating makes it easy for companies and individuals to afford thermal insulation so energy can be conserved while reducing the overall carbon footprint. Spray-IT is inexpensive to produce, easy to apply and environmentally friendly.” 


A video from ITRI introducing the technology.