SkyLouver™ is a new technology that ensures commercial buildings substantially reduce their energy requirements for interior lighting, heating and cooling. This is accomplished by collecting, separating and redirecting the solar energy resources that fall on a building’s roof. The heart of this patent-pending collection and management technology are roof-mounted modules that contain embedded solar thermal micro-concentrators. These modules produce diffuse natural light and high temperature hot water that can be used for lighting, heating and cooling commercial buildings.
The module has been designed specifically to optimize the conversion of sunlight into useful energy streams that address the demand for energy in the building itself. Its intelligent system design has lowered the cost per unit of energy delivered so that payback periods range from 2.5 to 5-years—less than half those of the other available solutions. This quantum improvement in affordability can dramatically accelerate the adoption of solar technologies to economically reduce commercial building energy needs.
The module, is made of multiwall-polycarbonate, a highly transparent and insulating material that transmits a high fraction of the incident light into the space below as high-quality diffuse light. The module also houses an array of reflecting louvers that concentrate the sun’s direct rays onto a receiver that can either transmit the energy as lighting into the space below or capture the light as high grade heat. This is accomplished by a patent-pending louvered concentrator that can precisely control the amount of light passing through it, capturing the excess solar energy as high grade solar heat.
As a result, when the building energy system is in cooling mode the modules are programmed to only deliver the amount of lighting the space requires in order to minimize the heating effect of the light delivered. When the system is in heating mode, and the use of the space allows it, the lighting levels can be increased dramatically, up to 250 footcandles, which allows delivery of heat directly to the space as radiant light. This can provide up to 10 Btu/hr-ft2 of heating delivered at 100% efficiency while at the same time providing brilliant lighting levels in the middle of winter.
All excess solar energy that is not needed for lighting or direct heating is directed onto thermal absorbing surfaces in the module through which thermal fluid is circulated to capture heat at temperatures over 200° F. This temperature is high enough to provide heating and hot water directly, and to drive single effect absorption chillers to provide cooling in summer. During periods of low direct sunlight, the louvers are opened fully to allow all available diffuse light to penetrate into the building space.