Solar reflective glass, also known as solar control glass, is used to control the amount of solar radiation entering a building or vehicle. In the daytime or summers, it reflects solar radiation back into the atmosphere, thus preventing heat buildup in the building. At night or in winters, it prevents radiation from escaping, maintaining an equitable temperature in the enclosure. Modern solar reflective glass exhibits total solar reflectance (TSR) (a measure of how well a material reflects each wavelength of energy) of more than 80% without causing significant impact on the transmissibility of light. This is a marked improvement from the 15-20% TSR value obtained from using traditional paints and coatings. In many countries, buildings represent about 30% of the total energy consumption. In tropical climates, a significant amount of energy is spent on air conditioning in order to maintain a pleasant temperature; whereas in countries with colder climates, energy is expended on a variety of room heaters. A major energy source for regulating air temperature is burning fossil fuels which increases carbon emissions. Use of solar reflective glass is an efficient and non-polluting solution for comfortable living environments in various commercial and residential buildings.
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Solar reflective glass usually comprises two panes of glass enclosing an inert gas, with a reflective coating applied to the inner surface of one pane which could consist of several layers and is composed of metal and metal alloys. Common materials used in the coatings include silver copper, zinc, tin, and titanium. It should be thin enough so as to not decrease the transmissibility of light. There are two major processes in which coating is applied to glass. The first involves impinging metal particles at a high velocity on the glass surface. In the other, glass is pyrolysed in the presence of a chemical vapor which condenses on the glass surface to form a thin metallic coating which reflects solar radiation.
Solar reflective glass is used in different commercial and residential building features including windows, doors, façades, rooftops, atria, and walkways, as well as in conservatories and green houses to maintain good climatic conditions for plant growth. Its usage in buildings is comparatively well-established in developed countries of North America and Europe. Despite the higher initial cost, the use of these glasses to maintain a warm temperature represents significant energy savings in the long run. Their consumption in developing countries such as China and India is increasing at a fast pace due to the flourishing construction sector in this region. However, it is restricted to commercial establishments as its high cost hampering its application in residential buildings. Governments are encouraging the use of solar glass by providing tax benefits to construction companies adopting environment-friendly measures. There also exists a significant market potential for solar reflective glass in the Middle East due to the hot climatic conditions and a considerable number of mega projects undertaken in this region. Growing economies in Latin America such as Brazil and Mexico are also increasing their usage of solar reflective glass. A recent technological trend in this industry is the development of ‘smart glass’ which provides dynamic solar control that automatically adjusts reflectivity to provide increased comfort.
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Key players in this market include Asahi Glass Co., Ltd, Saint-Gobain SA, Heliotrope Technologies Inc, Chromogenics AB, e-Chromic Technologies, Inc, Polytron Technologies, Inc, Econtrol-Glas GmbH & C0 KG, Guardian Industries Corporation, Gentex Corporation, Magna Mirrors Holding GmbH, PPG Industries, Ravenbrick Llc, and View Inc.
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