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America's Next Top Energy Innovator Challenge

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US e-Chromic

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

US e-Chromic, based in Boulder, Colorado, was formed in March 2011, for the purpose of developing and commercializing reflective electrochromic (EC) thin film based on options to patents exclusively licensed from NREL. The company has exclusive rights to 3 issued and 1 pending NREL patents and non-exclusive rights to 3 issued and 7 pending NREL patents. Our EC thin film will be applied to existing windows, transforming them into highly energy efficient 'smart windows.' Our EC technology can reduce building air conditioning usage by 25 to 40 percent. We intend to be the industry standard for the window retrofit market.

Competing EC technologies on the market today turn dark (and therefore absorb heat) when activated. Because they absorb heat, these EC technologies must be built into the interior of new window units (IGUs), making them very expensive to acquire (often priced at more than $100 per square foot). Existing windows must be replaced by these new window units, so installation costs, including potentially vacating space and/or requiring rigging, can dramatically increase the total cost of acquisition. Additionally, disposing of the existing windows can add costs and create unnecessary landfill.

US e-Chromic's EC thin film reflects sunlight and its heat when activated. Reflecting (not absorbing) heat enables our technology to be applied from inside an office or home onto existing windows, thus eliminating the costs, dislocation and landfill associated with purchasing and installing expensive replacement EC windows. Unlike our competitors’ EC windows that are wired into the building infrastructure for both power and control, our EC thin film will be powered with a very small PV cell and battery and will include a control module that wirelessly interfaces with the customer’s building management system. We anticipate end-user pricing at approximately $20 per square foot.

Thermal transfer through windows accounts for about 4 percent (approximately 4.1 quadrillion BTUs per year) of the total annual US energy consumption, according to the Energy Department. Additionally, windows account for more than 30 percent of building air conditioning costs. HVAC accounts for 39 percent of building energy usage according to the 2008 Buildings Energy Data Book. This problem becomes much larger when considering Europe, Asia and Australia. Our EC thin film for windows addresses the tremendous electrical energy usage and GHG emissions that are caused by inefficient windows in commercial and residential structures.

We are currently continuing research, development and testing under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with NREL. In addition to the prototype anticipated to be delivered in February 2012, additional refinement of the technical recipe and testing will occur until the completion of the CRADA in Septempter 2012. We plan to develop a pilot production line in 2013, which will become operational by mid- to late 2013.

We intend to build our production facilities in an economically disadvantaged location that suffers from chronic above-average unemployment. By doing so, we will employ significant numbers of otherwise unemployed workers. We believe that this has the added benefit of creating an extremely loyal and stable workforce. The company also anticipates the benefit of state and municipal economic incentives associated with this decision.
 

Innovators

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