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The inflatable window - 50% insulation improvement

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January 23, 2009

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January 23, 2009 The inflatable window is a secondary glazing system that uses an inflatable rubber tube to seal into the window reveal to provide better insulation for the windows. The Australian Building Codes Board has published data showing that 87% of heat loss and 48% of heat gain is through the 8% of windows in the average building . The inflatable system is proven to offer up to 50% improvement on insulation resulting in a 68% improvement on the energy use for heating and cooling.

The inflatable window is the work of student designer Michael Palin of the University of Western Sydney, and is one of the shortlisted projects in the 2009 Australian Design Awards, specifically, in the James Dyson Award for students.

The rubber tubing provides a 100% air tight seal without damaging the building in any way. The inflatable window gives a 60-70mm air gap providing the window with good levels of thermal and acoustic insulation. The thermal testing has proven the inflatable window gives up to a 68% improvement on the cooling load of a home.

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About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
8 Comments

This is a great idea...as long as they can figure out how to prevent the inflatible bladder from cracking and leaking from exposure to extreme levels of UV light! Anyone who owns a car knows about "Dry-rot", where the rubber in the tire cracks and splits by being exposed to the sun (UV rays). "They" say that you should replace your tires every 5 years because of that fact. My windows may not be as effiecient as this, but I don't have to replace them every 5 years...And what do you do when the bladder springs a leak? Or slowly looses it's air? Is there an inflation nipple you would use to pump it back up again? Perhaps in an "Air Jordan" kind of inflation? Also, the article states that this window offers up to a 50% improvement...50% improvement on what? Standard, single-pane, wooden sash windows from the 60's? Or is this a 50% improvement on modern triple pane Low-e gas, insulated windows? Ed web/gadget guru

Ed

Brilliant - quite brilliant, and potentially a very cheap heating solutions.

Sqidge

Hi Guys,

My name is Michael Palin, I'm the designer of this system. Its a good comment about the UV rays wearing out the tube I will look into this. In the initial stages the model uses a bike tube system, so as for refilling, its simply done using a typical bike pump.

When I say its got 50% improvement. It was tested over a standard/typical aluminium single glazed with 3mm clear glass. It can be quite easily tested over any system, i.e thermal frame with low E double glazing. The testing was all carried out using NFRC procedures which is the specified procedures in the Building Code of Australia. the 63% improvement on the heating load is generated through the Window Energy Rating Calculators.

It was developed as a solution to providing better insulation for the rental market. As you are aware in a rental property you cannot damage the building in any way so this system was developed to not damage the building. It just turns out that it is a very cheap alternative for not only the rental market but all markets, especially given that in Victoria the government is giving cheap/low interest loans for retrofitting renovations.

Thanks for the comments guys.

Cheers Mike http://www.mikepalin.info

mikepalin

As a renter in the USA I would be greatly interested in this. As of now the government is giving rebates for energy saving improvements. I could save on heating bills and get taxes.

LoveJ

Yeah the bicycle tube bladder lock system - well that is mechanically \"fairly good\" to lock things into place - with a lowish pressure over a large area - with a high surface friction compound.

But bike (and other) tubes and their rubbers are made for the inside of bicycle (or any other) tyres.

UV is one issue, and ozone is another.

I\'d consider a basic labarynth light and air seal to protect the tube or dispense with it entirely. Or use a type of UV and ozone resistant tube material.

Anyway - it\'s a clever idea... just needs some refinement.

Also the idea of using some kind of semi to permanent retainer and sealing system would be good.

Mr Stiffy

Less problems if you consider EPDM or ETFE as matterial instead of tire tube ruber. The solution might also work at no pressure with stiffness of the material alone.

Please join also my survey on solar energy harvesting - targeting retrofit http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HHNBJ2B

thanks a lot

Gerfried Hans

CO2 emissions also cause most plastics to become brittle too... Check for that as well. :)

Stuart Halliday

The rubber gasket on plumbing vent flashing (on roofs) generally lasts about 10 years before the rubber breaks. A rubber seal in a window might last around that long but probably not any longer as the heat buildup between the panes of glass may exceed that of a roof.

Why not encase the rubber bladder with a sheet of heavy duty mylar? This would help keep both the heat and UV off the rubber as much as possible. Probably wouldn\'t add too much more to the cost of a window.

Nice design btw.

Stephen Smith
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