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Sbskin reinvents glass blocks, bringing their functionality and sustainability to new heights. A revolutionary innovation confirmed by two patents and an EC model.
How can anyone reinvent an “ancient” and inherently sustainable product like glass blocks, which were widely used in Italy back in the ’30s? The answer comes from Sbskin, a spin-off of the University of Palermo, which turned it into a product apt to compete in the energy-efficient building envelope materials sector, and made it “smart” by adding unprecedented functional features.
In fact, these glass blocks are photovoltaic and capable of Wi-Fi communication with devices within range inside or outside of the building.
This revolutionary change, confirmed by two patents and a European Community model, was conceived and developed in Palermo as “a research project I started in 2008”, recalls University of Palermo Faculty of Architecture Professor Rossella Corrao, who is now CEO of the company that also employs two young construction engineers/architects, Marco Morini and Luisa Pastore, who co-founded the start-up with electrical engineer Santi Cucco.
How can lower transmittance and broader functionality be achieved?
“The initial research – Professor Rossella Corrao explains – sought to maximize the energy efficiency of elements that capture natural light.Within that context we studied glass blocks, a product widely used in the past, yet recently banned due to non-compliance of its energy efficiency rating with the strictest regulatory standards”.
In fact the transmittance value of products currently on the market falls within the 1.5 and 2.9 W/mqk range, far from the statutory limit of approximately 1.0 W/mqK. This prompted our attempt to reduce its transmittance value, and make it more functional.
Dry-assembled, versatile, easy to lay
The first goal was achieved by creating a patented thermal belt, by which one or more panels can be installed inside the hollow cavity of glass blocks, to “bring their transmittance value down to 1.0 W/mqK, or lower if required”. Moreover, “we also developed and patented a dry-assembly system that makes the panels extremely versatile and easy to install, by eliminating curing times required with traditional cement mortar. Special mechanical connections are used to hang and secure them to vertical and horizontal framing members, to construct the buildings outer walls and roofing systems”.
That is how Sbskin conceived its multifunctional translucent components for building envelopes, which are starting to attract international attention. (…)
21.04.2017, Glass in it style
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