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Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 54 (2016) 13451357

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews


journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/rser

Vacuum glazing for highly insulating windows: Recent developments


and future prospects
Erdem Cuce a,b,n, Pinar Mert Cuce a,c
a
Department of Architecture and Built Environment, Faculty of Engineering, University of Nottingham, University Park, NG7 2 RD Nottingham, UK
b
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Bayburt, 69000 Bayburt, Turkey
c
Republic of Turkey Ministry of National Education, Ankara, Turkey

art ic l e i nf o a b s t r a c t

Article history: A comprehensive review of vacuum glazing technology from state-of-the-art developments to future
Received 13 September 2015 prospects has been presented. The review has been conducted in a thematic way in order to allow an
Received in revised form easier comparison, discussion and evaluation of the ndings. First, a thorough overview of historical
21 October 2015
development of vacuum glazing has been given. Then, numerous experimental, theoretical, numerical
Accepted 26 October 2015
and simulation works on the scope have been evaluated and the characteristic results from the said
Available online 11 November 2015
works have been analyzed. Commercial vacuum glazing products in market have been assessed in terms
Keywords: of several performance parameters such as overall heat transfer coefcient, visible light transmittance,
Vacuum glazing solar heat gain coefcient and cost. Techno-economic and environmental aspects of vacuum glazing
U-value
technology have also been discussed. It can be concluded from the results that overall heat transfer
Buildings
coefcient of a vacuum glazing can be reduced up to 0.20 W/m2K through optimized integrations with
Energy consumption
Carbon abatement low-e coatings. The incomparable U-value range of vacuum glazing enables signicant mitigation in
Retrot energy consumption levels and greenhouse gas emissions. Retrotting 25.6 million homes in the UK with
vacuum glazing can provide a carbon abatement of about 40 million tonnes a year, which is very pro-
mising.
& 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Contents

1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1346
1.1. Windows and heat loss . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1346
1.2. Global necessity to novel window technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1346
2. Vacuum glazing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1346
2.1. Description of vacuum glazing concept . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1346
2.2. History of vacuum glazing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1347
3. Performance investigation of vacuum glazing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1348
3.1. Experimental works. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1348
3.2. Theoretical works . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1348
3.3. Numerical works . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1350
3.4. Simulation works. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1351
4. Commercial products of vacuum glazing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1352
4.1. Pilkington SPACIA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1353
4.2. Pilkington SPACIA-21 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1353
4.3. Laminated SPACIA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1353
5. Comparative in-situ testing performance of vacuum glazing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1354
6. Environmental impact of vacuum glazing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1355
7. Further works on vacuum glazing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1356

n
Corresponding author at: Department of Architecture and Built Environment,
Faculty of Engineering, University of Nottingham, University Park, NG7 2RD
Nottingham, UK. Tel.: 44 115 951 4882.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2015.10.134
1364-0321/& 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1346 E. Cuce, P.M. Cuce / Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 54 (2016) 13451357

8. Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1356
Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1356
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1356

1. Introduction program, The UK aims at reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by


80% by 2050, where the residential sector accounts for 27% of total
1.1. Windows and heat loss emissions [13]. The program also adopts a fabric energy efciency
standard, where the new buildings have to achieve an annual
Recent reports released by International Energy Agency (IEA) energy demand below a certain maximum level. For instance, a
clearly indicates that buildings are responsible for about 40% of detached dwelling in the UK would have to achieve annual energy
total world energy consumption in 2014 [1], and current predic- requirement for heating below 46 kWh/m2year resulting to the U-
tions demonstrate that the trend will continue if decisive mea- values of windows in the region of or lower than 1.21.4 W/m2K to
sures are not taken. Besides the remarkable role of buildings in be able to meet the fabric energy efciency standard as recently
global energy consumption, growing signicance of environmental reported by Cuce et al. [14]. Similarly in Germany, the Passivhaus
issues related to buildings is also unequivocal [2,3]. Greenhouse Standard set out by the Passivhaus Institute of Darmstadt indicates
gas emissions emitted by buildings in many developed countries that the buildings are expected to require an energy amount less
account for more than 30% of total emission as reported by Bae- than 15 kWh/m2year for space heating/cooling per year corre-
tens et al. [4]. In this respect, numerous attempts are made sponding to a U-value range for windows below 0.85 W/m2K [15].
worldwide to mitigate energy consumed in buildings, and thus to Unfortunately, conventional window technologies are not capable
halt greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. The most pro- of meeting such high thermal standards and this situation results in
minent measure of the world in recent years can be considered as high energy consumption and consequently increases the CO2
putting extra attention to renewables [5,6]. However, renewable emissions to the atmosphere. Current fenestration market is
energy resources currently supply only about 14% of total world dominated by air or Argon lled double glazed windows due to
energy demand as previously revealed by Hasan and Sumathy [7] their remarkably better thermal insulation performance compared
and Panwar et al. [8]. Therefore, additional measures such as to conventional single glazing, and well-documented fabrication
developing high-efcient, cost-effective and environmentally process. However, their U-values are still very high as illustrated in
friendly building elements are notably required. Table 1, and insufcient to fulll the requirements of low-carbon
It is well-documented in literature that the greatest percentage building concepts adopted by many developed countries [16,17].
of the energy consumed in buildings belongs to the energy losses Therefore, there is a consensus among scientists on the global
through building envelope as a consequence of poor thermal necessity of low-cost, efcient and environmentally friendly win-
insulation characteristics of existing building elements notably dow technologies. The objective of this research is to provide the
windows [9]. Windows are indispensable components of building
state-of-the-art developments on vacuum glazing, which is one of
envelope which provide air ventilation, vision, day-lighting, pas-
the most promising glazing technology developed for low/zero
sive solar gain and the opportunity to leave the building in
carbon building concept.
extreme situations. However, they are responsible for a signicant
amount of energy used in buildings due to their remarkably higher
U-values compared to other components of building envelope. As
2. Vacuum glazing
reported by Cuce [9] for a typical building, the U-values of roof,
oor, external walls and windows are around 0.16, 0.25, 0.30 and
2.1. Description of vacuum glazing concept
2.00 W/m2K, respectively. Windows play a signicant role in
heating and cooling demand of buildings, particularly when their
Vacuum glazing is a unique and high performance fenestration
overall area is large. According to the results of comprehensive
technology which enables minimum heat loss and high visible
review on fenestration systems by Jelle et al. [10], about 60% of
transmittance in a slim window product [18]. The idea was rst
total energy consumption in buildings is attributed to the win-
dows. Due to the signicance of windows in reducing heating and introduced by Zoller in 1913 [19,20] but was not successfully
cooling demand of buildings, considerable attention at global scale fabricated until 1989 [21]. The rst successful manufacturing of
is given to improving their performance. vacuum glazing was achieved by Robinson and Collins [22] at the
University of Sydney. The glazing conguration utilized a con-
1.2. Global necessity to novel window technologies tiguous solder glass edge seal which can be produced only at a
process temperature above 450 C. At a further stage, they eluci-
As global energy prices have a remarkably increasing trend, dated this prerequisite by producing an edge seal vacuum glazing
there is a growing awareness of the energy efciency requirement at below 200 C [2325].
in all areas, and as emphasized previously buildings are of sig- Vacuum glazing technology does not have complex fabrication
nicant relevance. In this respect, new building standards are details. A conventional vacuum glazing consists of two sheets of
invoked by many developed countries to be able to improve the glass separated by a vacuum medium with an array of support
fabric efciency of new buildings and in some cases to also enhance
Table 1
the thermal performance of existing buildings through a process of
U-values of commercial glazing products.
energy-efcient retrotting [1]. The UK is one such country, where
the energy efciency is considered as being crucial for both new U-value (W/m2K) Pilkington [16] Ref. [17]
and existing buildings [11]. A recent program of tightening building
standards is agreed for the majority of the UK regions, where all Air lled double glazed window 2.70 2.53
Air lled double glazed window with low-e 2.00 2.10
new buildings will have to achieve an energy rating label scale in Argon lled double glazed window with low-e 1.80 1.90
terms of energy consumption and emissions [12]. In light of this
E. Cuce, P.M. Cuce / Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 54 (2016) 13451357 1347

pillars keeping the two sheets of glass apart as shown in Fig. 1 [9]. vacuum-tight and thermally insulating materials to be utilized in
The support pillars are mostly imperceptible from a distance of edge seal notably delayed the commercialization of vacuum glaz-
about 23 m, hence their inuence on vision is negligible [2628]. ing [30]. However, theoretical works and continuing stream of
The key role of the vacuum gap between the glass sheets is to patents in the eld of vacuum glazing over the last decades indi-
eliminate the conduction and convection which play a signicant cated the high level of interest in this unique fenestration tech-
role in the U-value of fenestration products. nology as a consequence of the global awareness of the role of
windows in total energy consumption [31]. The rst samples of
2.2. History of vacuum glazing vacuum glazing were fabricated in the early 1980s, however the
thermal performance achieved was poor as the level of vacuum,
The concept of vacuum glazing, which is essentially based on which needs to be below 0.1 Pa to eliminate gaseous conduction,
minimizing conductive and convective heat transfer in a glazing was not sufcient [32]. Following the development of a new
via a vacuum gap, is not new and its origination goes back to the sealing technique, the rst successful vacuum glazing sample was
1910s. The idea was rst proposed by Zoller in 1913 and granted fabricated at the University of Sydney in 1989 [33]. The rst
with a patent in 1914 [19]. However, the rst successful vacuum commercialization attempts of vacuum glazing started in 2000 s
glazing products could only be developed by the end of 20th by Nippon Sheet Glass (NSG) Group. Three different vacuum
century due to the considerable difculties in fabricating a work- glazing products called SPACIA, SPACIA-21 and Laminated SPACIA
ing vacuum glazing sample. The working principle of vacuum were fabricated in Japan and intensive efforts were made in the
glazing is similar to that of double glazing in which the gas-lled following years to enhance the thermal insulation characteristics
space is evacuated to a particular pressure to be able to eliminate and cost-effectiveness of the aforesaid vacuum glazing products.
convection and gaseous conduction [29]. However, fabrication The SPACIA was constructed from two 3, 4 or 5 mm sheets of glass,
process of vacuum glazing is considerably complicated compared with pillars 0.2 mm high and 0.5 mm diameter. A single low-e
to other glazing technologies. Especially challenges in developing coating was utilized as shown in Fig. 2a yielding to a U-value of

Fig. 1. The 3D schematic of a conventional vacuum glazing.

Fig. 2. Structural details of (a) SPACIA and (b) SPACIA-21.


1348 E. Cuce, P.M. Cuce / Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 54 (2016) 13451357

1.5 W/m2K for the entire glazing. In the SPACIA-21, an Argon gap four low-e coatings. Cuce and Riffat [37] developed a unique
was used in collaboration with single or double silver low-e vacuum glazing concept called vacuum tube window at the Uni-
coating as illustrated in Fig. 2b resulting in a U-value around versity of Nottingham, and conducted several experiments on dif-
0.7 W/m2K. For the applications where the strength is requisite, ferent samples fabricated for an accurate thermal insulation per-
the vacuum glazing was laminated with an additional glass sheet, formance assessment. Vacuum tube window concept was basically
thus the Laminated SPACIA was produced having a U-value similar the combination of a particular amount of evacuated glass tubes at
to the standard SPACIA [34]. optimized dimensions, and integration of them into a double glazed
frame as illustrated in Fig. 5. The evacuated tubes at a particular
vacuum pressure were xed between two glass window panes and
3. Performance investigation of vacuum glazing for the external connection between vacuum tubes, an insulating
adhesive was utilized. The results indicated that the U-value of
The rst samples of vacuum glazing successfully fabricated at vacuum tube window is highly dependent on the tube diameter (D)
the University of Sydney remarkably stimulated the research on as shown in Fig. 6. The U-value was found to be around 0.30 and
this novel technology, and as a consequence this, a group at the 2.00 W/m2K for D80 and 20 mm, respectively. There was not a
University of Ulster investigated the potential of developing a remarkable difference between the U-values for D60, 70 and
lower temperature sealing method to notably overcome the pro- 80 mm. Thus, 60 mm was considered as the optimum tube dia-
blems of the high-temperature method such as coating degrada- meter with a U-value of 0.40 W/m2K.
tion, loss of temper and high embodied energy. The technique
developed enabled vacuum glazing to be fabricated at tempera- 3.2. Theoretical works
tures lower than 160 C. The glazing sample developed through
this method at the University of Ulster utilized an indium or an It is well-documented in literature that the radiative heat
indium alloy seal with a secondary seal used to prevent moisture transfer between the two interior surfaces of the glass needs to be
ingress from occurring. The best U-value achieved was reported to kept as low as possible to be able to obtain good thermal perfor-
be 0.86 W/m2K. From the 2000s to present, research was mostly mance from a vacuum glazing. In this respect, Eames [21] provided
focused on improving the U-value of the existing vacuum glazing an indication of the radiative heat transfer rate that will occur for
products. In this respect, numerous experimental, theoretical, various combinations of different low-e coatings for a temperature
numerical and simulations works were conducted especially in difference between the inner and outer glass surfaces of 20 C
recent years. In this section, a comprehensive assessment of the (20 C inside and 0 C outside). The values of emittance presented
aforementioned works is presented. in decreasing magnitude in Table 2 are for untreated glass, a hard
low-e coating, a soft silver coating and a double silver coating. It
3.1. Experimental works was achieved from the theoretical work that a notable reduction
occurs in the radiative heat transfer rate due to the inclusion of a
Fang et al. [35] conducted an experimental research to evaluate single-hard low-e coating. Subsequent improvements achieved by
the thermal performance of a novel hybrid vacuum glazing inte- using better performing low-e coatings were found to be less
grated with an air gap and low-e coating. They investigated the signicant [21]. Cuce and Riffat [29] theoretically investigated the
impact of vacuum gap conguration on the overall thermal insu- thermal insulation performance of the world's rst commercially
lation performance as shown in Fig. 3. The lowest U-value was available vacuum glazing product. Their results were compared
reported to be 0.24 W/m2K for the sample integrated with three with the manufacturers thermal performance report, and an
low-e coatings. A similar work was conducted by Manz et al. [36] in excellent agreement was achieved as given in Table 3. Within the
Switzerland on a triple vacuum glazing sample. The impacts of scope of their research, translucent aerogel support pillars were
emittances of glass sheet surfaces inside the cavity, support pillar recommended for commercial vacuum glazing, and impact of this
radius, support pillar separation and thermal conductivity of sup- replacement on the thermal performance of the glazing was
port pillar material on the average U-value of vacuum glazing were numerically analyzed. The U-value of vacuum glazing was deter-
investigated experimentally as illustrated in Fig. 4. The U-value was mined as a function of thermophysical properties of the window
found to be 0.20 W/m2K by using stainless steel support pillars and components as shown in Fig. 7. The results revealed that the

Fig. 3. Different congurations of hybrid vacuum glazing developed by Fang et al. [35].
E. Cuce, P.M. Cuce / Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 54 (2016) 13451357 1349

Fig. 4. Impact of pillar separation (s), pillar radius (r), thermal conductivity of pillar material () and emittance () on the U-value of vacuum triple glazing [36].

Fig. 5. Schematic of the vacuum tube window (on the left) and the sample developed (on the right) by Cuce and Riffat [37].

U-value of vacuum glazing exponentially increases with the ther- performance of vacuum glazing after aerogel retrot as illustrated
mal conductivity of glass material. In addition, it was also found in Table 4. Memon et al. [38] developed a novel low-temperature
that the U-value of vacuum glazing remarkably changes with the hermetic composite edge seal for the fabrication of triple vacuum
thermal conductivity of support pillar for any type of glass mate- glazing depicted in Fig. 8. The fabrication process was found to be
rial. Signicant enhancements were achieved at the thermal successful in achieving a vacuum pressure of 0.048 Pa in the two
1350 E. Cuce, P.M. Cuce / Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 54 (2016) 13451357

Table 4
Enhancement at the thermal performance of vacuum glazing after aerogel retrot
[29].

U-value (W/m2K) kglass (W/mK)

0.05 0.10 0.15 0.20 0.25 0.30 0.35 0.40

Conventional sup- 0.87 1.24 1.47 1.63 1.75 1.84 1.91 1.97
port pillars
Aerogel support 0.54 0.67 0.74 0.79 0.83 0.86 0.89 0.91
pillars
Enhancement (%) 37.7 46.4 49.9 51.6 52.6 53.2 53.5 53.7

by reducing the total width of the edge seal from 14 to 8 mm and


Fig. 6. Numerical and experimental U-values of vacuum tube window for the tube
diameters of 50 and 80 mm [37]. by utilizing better low-e coatings on the glass surfaces.

Table 2
The effect of low-emittance coatings on radiative heat transfer rate in a vacuum 3.3. Numerical works
glazing [21].
Han et al. [39] investigated the thermal performance of vacuum
The emittance of 1st glass The emittance of 2nd Heat transfer rate
glazing by using three-dimensional nite element method. Heat
surface glass surface (W/m2K)
conduction through the support pillars and edge seal and the
0.9 0.9 4.21 radiation between two glass sheets were evaluated. The heat
0.9 0.16 0.81
conduction of residual gas in vacuum gap was ignored for a low
0.16 0.16 0.45
0.9 0.05 0.26 pressure of less than 0.1 Pa. Two samples of vacuum glazing with
0.05 0.05 0.13 sizes of 300 mm  300 mm and 1000 mm  1000 m were
0.9 0.02 0.10
numerically modeled. The heat transfer coefcients of this unit
0.02 0.02 0.05
obtained from simulation and numerical prediction were found to
be 2.19 and 2.26 W/m2K, respectively, with a deviation of 2.79%.
Table 3
Fang et al. [40] numerically investigated the thermal performance
U-values of vacuum glazing through manufacturer data report and CFD analysis. of a triple vacuum glazing consists of three 4 mm thick glass panes
with two vacuum gaps, with each internal glass surface coated
kglass (W/mK) kpillar (W/mK) Uwindow (W/m2K)
with a low-emittance coating with an emittance of 0.03. The
Pilkington 0.10 0.04 1.20 constructional details of the triple vacuum glazing and the heat
Cuce and Riffat [29] 0.10 0.04 1.24 ow through the novel design are shown in Fig. 9. They modeled
the temperature distribution inside the vacuum glazing for the
boundary conditions and model parameters given in Tables 5
and 6, respectively. The three-dimensional isotherms of the triple
vacuum glazing illustrated in Fig. 10 clearly shows the temperature
gradient across the three glass panes due to the high thermal
resistance of the two vacuum gaps. The isotherms of the three
glass surfaces AC described in Fig. 9 are shown in Fig. 11. It is
observed from the results that the increased heat conduction
through the edge seal results in greater temperature gradients at
the edge areas of the three glass surfaces. The thermal transmis-
sion of the entire triple vacuum glazing system was found to be
0.65 W/m2K whereas it was 0.26 W/m2K at the center-of-glazing
area. Due to the signicant impact of heat conduction through the
edge seal, the thermal transmission of the entire glazing is
approximately two times larger than that at the central glazing
area. Fang et al. [41] numerically and experimentally investigated
the potential enhancement in thermal performance of triple
Fig. 7. U-value of vacuum glazing as a function of thermophysical properties of the vacuum glazing with low-emittance coatings. The triple vacuum
window components [29]. glazing considered consisted of three, 4 mm thick glass panes with
two vacuum gaps, sealed with indium metal and separated by an
array of stainless steel pillars, 0.2 mm high, 0.3 mm diameter and
gaps between the three glass sheets. D They utilized a theoretical
spaced at 25 mm. Their results indicated that decreasing the
approach based on a three-dimensional nite element model in
order to determine thermal insulation performance of the triple emittance of the four low-e coatings from 0.18 to 0.03 reduces the
vacuum glazing with dimensions of 300 mm  300 mm and with U-value at the center-of-glazing area from 0.41 to 0.22 W/m2K for
vacuum pressure of 0.048 Pa. Central and total thermal transmit- a 400 mm m by 400 mm triple vacuum glazing rebated by 10 mm
tance of the triple vacuum glazing were predicted to be 0.33 and within a solid wood frame. Comparison of the U-values for
1.05 W/m2K, respectively. They also concluded that potential different number of coatings and emittance values is shown
enhancements in thermal insulation performance can be achieved in Fig. 12.
E. Cuce, P.M. Cuce / Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 54 (2016) 13451357 1351

Fig. 8. Schematic diagram and three-stage composite-edge-sealing design process for the fabrication of triple vacuum glazing [38].

Table 5
Boundary conditions of the triple vacuum glazing [40].

Ambient temperature (C)

Indoor 20
Outdoor 0
Glazing surface heat transfer coefcient (W/m2K)

External surface 25
Internal surface 7.7

Table 6
Model parameters of the triple vacuum glazing [40].

Vacuum glazing dimensions

Thickness 12.24 mm
Width 500 mm
Length 500 mm
Glass pane thickness 4 mm
Emittance 0.03
Edge seal width 6 mm
Pillar diameter 0.3 mm
Pillar height 0.12 mm
Pillar separation 25 mm
Frame rebate depth 10 mm
Thermal conductivity (W/mK)

Indium 83.7
Glass and solder glass 1
Fig. 9. Constructional details of triple vacuum glazing (a) developed by Fang et al. Pillar 20
and heat conduction through the glazing elements [40]. Wood frame 0.17

3.4. Simulation works


thickness, tube diameter and Argon gap on the overall thermal
Vacuum tube window, which is a novel design of tubular insulation performance of the vacuum glazing. The 2D schematic
vacuum glazing, was comprehensively investigated by Cuce and of the vacuum tube window utilized in CFD research is given in
Riffat [37]. Several CFD simulations were conducted to determine Fig. 13. Parametric study was carried out for several values of tube
the impact of design parameters such as pane thickness, tube diameter as shown in Fig. 14. For Argon thickness of 1 and 2 mm,
1352 E. Cuce, P.M. Cuce / Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 54 (2016) 13451357

Fig. 10. Isotherms of triple vacuum glazing with boundary conditions and model
parameters shown in Tables 5 and 6 [40].

the U-value was found to be around 0.40 W/m2K. On the other


hand, the U-value exceeded 1.00 W/m2K while increased
23 mm. The U-value was found to be around 0.30 and 2.00 W/
m2K for D 80 and 20 mm, respectively. There was not a
remarkable difference between the U-values for D 60, 70 and
80 mm. From this point of view, it was concluded that 60 mm is
the optimum value for tube diameter which results in a U-value
around 0.40 W/m2K. In another work, Cuce and Riffat [29] simu-
lated the thermal insulation performance of a commercial vacuum
glazing product after replacing existing support pillars with
translucent aerogel. Firstly, they provided a CFD model to deter-
mine the U-value of vacuum glazing as a function of thermal
conductivity of the glass pane as illustrated in Fig. 15. Then, the
number of aerogel support pillars was optimized to be able to
achieve the lowest U-value from the vacuum glazing. It is con-
cluded from their results that if three aerogel support pillars are
utilized at per section of short edge (5 cm gap between each pil-
lar), the enhancement in the U-value of vacuum glazing is found to
be 31%, as clearly shown in Fig. 16. Fang et al. [34] emphasized that
the edge seal in vacuum glazing is a thermal bridge transferring
relatively large amounts of heat compared to the high insulation
vacuum gap. In this respect, they developed highly efcient
complex multimaterial frames to reduce the total heat ow
through vacuum glazing by 20%. The minimum U-value achieved
from the vacuum glazing samples fabricated through the said
method was reported to be 0.20 W/m2K [36,42,43]. Berardi [44]
indicated the practicality of a vacuum glazing integrated with
13.5 mm thick aerogel panel. The overall heat transfer coefcient
and the transmissivity of the vacuum glazing were reported to be
0.66 W/m2K and 0.85, respectively.
Fig. 11. Isotherms of three glass surfaces A (a), B (b) and C (c) of the triple vacuum
glazing [40].
4. Commercial products of vacuum glazing
is evaluated in terms of commercial aspects. It needs to be noted that
In this section, commercially available vacuum glazing products commercialization of vacuum glazing is still challenging, however
are introduced. Constructional details of each commercial product there are many attempts in progress such as TopTherm 90 as a
are provided as well as thermal insulation and optical performance consequence of several research projects. In the near future, it is
parameters. Practicality and reliability of vacuum glazing technology expected to have a wide range of products in market. Currently, it is
E. Cuce, P.M. Cuce / Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 54 (2016) 13451357 1353

Fig. 12. Comparison of U-values of the triple vacuum glazing (TVG) with one, two, three and four emittance coatings for the emittance value of (a) 0.18 and (b) 0.03 [41].

even longer life expectancy for this high performance vacuum


glazing technology.

4.2. Pilkington SPACIA-21

Pilkington SPACIA-21 is a triple glazed vacuum glazing con-


sisting of two low-e coatings in the unit along with Argon lling.
Its characteristic design provides a highly energy efcient unit
with a similar thickness to a conventional double insulating glass
unit. Basically Pilkington SPACIA-21 is a hybrid vacuum glazing
composed of Pilkington SPACIA and low-e glass. The cavity is
injected with Argon gas that is lower in thermal conductivity by
about 30% compared to air, thus achieving remarkable thermal
insulation performance. The product is available with a solar
control low-e coating for enhanced solar control. For improved
Fig. 13. Cross-sectional view of the vacuum tube window for CFD simulation [37].
thermal insulation performance, utilization of different types of
inert gases like Krypton in the airspace is also available. Pilkington
unequivocal that the vacuum glazing market is dominated by three
SPACIA-21 is fabricated in standard clear or green glass with an
products, which are Pilkington SPACIA, Pilkington SPACIA-21 and
entire thickness varying from 18.2 mm to 21.2 mm. For 18.2 mm
Laminated SPACIA as reported by several researchers [9,10,52].
thick Pilkington SPACIA-21, center pane U-value of the product is
reported to be 0.90 W/m2K while light transmittance and solar
4.1. Pilkington SPACIA
heat gain coefcient are 0.64 and 0.58, respectively. On the other
hand, center pane U-value is 0.70 W/m2K, light transmittance is
Pilkington SPACIA vacuum glazing consists of an outer pane of
0.58 and solar heat gain coefcient is 0.34 for the 21.2 mm thick
low-emissivity glass and an inner pane of clear oat glass, sepa-
Pilkington SPACIA-21 [45]. Enhanced thermal insulation char-
rated by a microspacer grid of small pillars each measuring
acteristics of Pilkington SPACIA-21 can be explained through the
0.5 mm diameter, set 20 mm apart, which are robotically posi-
sketch shown in Fig. 17
tioned, with intelligent camera checking. This grid ensures that the
two glass panes are kept a xed distance apart. The edges are
welded to achieve a hermetic seal. Air is extracted to create a 4.3. Laminated SPACIA
vacuum via the extraction point, rather than being air or gas lled.
High insulation performance is achieved through a slim entire Laminated SPACIA is a newly developed commercial product
glazing thickness, which is only slightly thicker than single glass. for sound reduction and anti-burglar. There are two specic
Pilkington SPACIA provides similar energy efciency performance examples of Laminated SPACIA called Shizuka and Mamoru. Shi-
with a standard double glazed unit containing low-emissivity zuka includes a laminated structure with a single pane enabling
glass, but in a much thinner prole. It is therefore perfectly sui- multi-benets like sound reduction, thermal insulation and safety,
ted for use in original, refurbishment or new thin prole frames, regardless of its thin structure. In Mamoru, the laminated struc-
allowing the property to maintain its characteristic appearance ture is provided by a poly-carbonate sheet. Both Shizuka and
[45]. Actual thickness of 6 mm Pilkington SPACIA is reported to be Mamoru are ideal vacuum glazing products to provide comfortable
6.5 70.1 mm. Center pane U-value of the product is 1.10 W/m2K dwelling and ofce spaces even in the noisy areas. They can be
whereas light transmittance and solar heat gain coefcient are fabricated in standard clear or light green glass with a total glass
0.78 and 0.67, respectively according to the latest manufacturer thickness of 9.7 and 10.7 mm, for Shizuka and Mamoru, respec-
data report. Pilkington SPACIA provides ve times better thermal tively. U-value, visible light transmittance and solar heat gain
insulation than single glazing. In this respect, it has a strong coefcient of Shizuka are noted to be 1.50 W/m2K, 0.72 and 0.62,
potential to mitigate energy consumed in buildings, thus to halt respectively whereas they are 1.20 W/m2K, 0.63 and 0.53 for
carbon emissions. The company ensures 10 year warranty with an Mamoru according to the data report of NSG Group [46].
1354 E. Cuce, P.M. Cuce / Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 54 (2016) 13451357

Fig. 14. Contours of static temperature for the tube diameter (D) of 80, 70, 60 and 50 mm [37].

Fig. 15. U-value of vacuum glazing after replacing existing support pillars with Fig. 16. Optimization of number of aerogel support pillars for the U-value of
aerogel [29]. vacuum glazing [29].

5. Comparative in-situ testing performance of vacuum glazing UK, energy saving performance and payback period of vacuum
tube window were compared with two different high perfor-
Vacuum glazing technologies are techno-economically eval- mance glazing technology called heat insulation solar glass
uated by several researchers within the scope of different retro- [50,51] and solar pond window [52]. As a consequence of its
tting projects like HERB (Holistic energy-efcient retrotting of highly insulating feature [53], vacuum tube window technology
residential buildings), which is an EU funded research project provided the shortest payback period with maximum energy
coordinated by the University of Nottingham [47]. The novel
saving as illustrated in Fig. 18 and Table 7. Current fabrication
vacuum tube window technology developed as one of the target
cost of vacuum tube window is 130/m2, which is somewhat
outputs of the HERB project was integrated into a test house,
competitive with that of conventional double glazed windows in
which is one of the creative energy homes in the University Park
the UK as comprehensively reported by Cuce [52]. Compared to
Campus at the University of Nottingham, and the thermal insu-
lation, energy saving and thermal comfort performance of the the special and energy-efcient design of vacuum tube window
vacuum glazing was analyzed through another research project developed by Cuce and Riffat [37], Pilkington SPACIA and other
funded by E.ON [48]. In a recent research, Cuce et al. [49] commercial vacuum glazing products seem much more expen-
extended the aforesaid previous research to a comparative sive. Current cost of the said technologies range from 272/m2 to
techno-economic analysis of vacuum glazing technology. In this 476/m2 depending upon volume, sizes and quantities as stated
respect for a typical three bedroom semi-detached house in the by Pilkington [54].
E. Cuce, P.M. Cuce / Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 54 (2016) 13451357 1355

Fig. 17. Schematic to explain the enhanced thermal insulation feature of Pilkington SPACIA-21 [45].

Table 7
Payback periods for novel glazing technologies for a typical UK house [49].

Glazing type Capital cost [] Annual savings Payback [year]


[]

Vacuum tube window 2600 181.33 14.34


Heat insulation solar glass 3000 89.02 33.70
Solar pond window 2400 107.60 22.30

energy-efcient retrotting of conventional windows with novel


glazing technologies is of vital importance for carbon abatement.
Vacuum glazing technology is very promising in this respect for
decisive mitigation of energy consumed in building sector, thus for
Fig. 18. The U-values of novel glazing technologies for the same entire glazing substantial reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmo-
thickness [49]. sphere (notably CO2). The U-values of windows in the UK buildings
would have to be in the region of or lower than 1.201.40 W/m2K
6. Environmental impact of vacuum glazing in order to meet the latest fabric energy efciency standard [55].
According to the report of Energy Saving Trust [56], if all of the
The role of windows in global energy consumption, thus in 25.6 million homes in the UK are retrotted with energy-efcient
greenhouse gas emissions is unequivocal. Among the elements of a windows, a notable carbon abatement of 12.8 million tonnes a
typical building envelope, windows are responsible for the great- year can be achieved. In other words, 12.8 million tonnes of CO2
est energy loss due to their notably high overall heat transfer being saved is equivalent to 840,000 cars being taken off the road.
coefcients. About 60% of heat loss through the fabric of residen- As the vacuum glazing technologies can provide at least 3 times
tial buildings can be attributed to the glazed areas [1]. Therefore, better insulating feature, the annual carbon abatement can reach
1356 E. Cuce, P.M. Cuce / Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 54 (2016) 13451357

almost 40 million tonnes if the retrot case is considered for a 6. The U-value of vacuum tube window is highly dependent on the
glazing technology like vacuum tube window. tube diameter (D) as it is found to be around 0.30 and 2.00 W/
m2K for D80 and 20 mm, respectively.
7. Vacuum pressure needs to be lower than 0.1 Pa in any vacuum
7. Further works on vacuum glazing glazing to be able to eliminate conductive and convective heat
transfer.
The electrochromic vacuum glazing is a promising concept, 8. Retrotting 25.6 million homes in the UK with vacuum glazing
which is of prime interest especially in recent years [57,58]. can provide a carbon abatement of about 40 million tonnes a
Linking an electrochromic glazing with a vacuum glazing in a year, which is very remarkable.
single window can provide a notably low heat loss glazing which
can be switched from transparent to opaque thus allowing day-
lighting and solar gain to be adjusted. The preliminary research on Acknowledgments
triple vacuum glazing clearly shows that the thermal insulation
performances of the samples are very high especially when the Corresponding author gratefully acknowledges the nancial
glass panes are integrated with low-e coatings. In further works, support of TBITAK (Scientic and Technological Research Council
composite aerogel and vacuum glazing congurations can be of Turkey) through Grant BIDEB 2219 2015/1.
studied for better thermal and sound insulation characteristics.
Several numerical and simulation works are already in progress
regarding this novel idea [29,52]. The material of support pillars
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