SUMMARY: SmartLight is a new, smart-phone controlled lighting system that incorporates a thin film of small electrofluidic prisms applied to portions of glazing that redirects sunlight on demand from a building's facade to spaces deep within with any surplus light diverted to centralized photovoltaic harvesting.
PROBLEM SPACE: "Buildings consume nearly 50% of the energy demands in the US. Consequently, the challenge to design buildings that effectively utilize the light, heat and electrical potential in sunlight has become the mantra of 21st century sustainability. Unfortunately, most of the sunlight that strikes a building is essentially wasted and often, treated as a liability and blocked. This is particularly unfortunate given the fact that lighting can represent 25% to 45% of the total energy needs of buildings, regardless of climate. With typical office/clerical needs of 300 lux and 30,000-100,000 lux of sunlight available on a sunny day, harvesting only 10% of the sunlight on the building envelope could in theory provide sufficient light for all the spaces within a 20-story building.
Most efforts to date have focused on harvesting sunlight through photovoltaic panels, converting the sunäó»s radiant energy into electricity. While efficiencies of PVs continue to increase, the losses from energy conversion are difficult to overcome. Ironically the electricity produced through photovoltaic collection is often converted back into light through electric lighting fixtures, a doubly inefficient approach.
What is needed is an approach that distributes sunlight to satisfy lighting needs in buildings first before converting it to electricity or heat."
SOLUTION: "Imagine the ability to redirect the sunlight from the windows of a building to any room within to provide an adequate level of lightingäóînot with mirrors but with individually controlled prisms that respond dynamically to lighting and energy needs. The SmartLight system utilizes the open space just below the ceiling as the channel for beaming light instead of installing complicated fiber optic cables or light tubes. Once in the building, the light can be redirected by SmartLight transom units installed over doors or clerestory windows in interior walls. Individual smartphone control of light levels in each space directs light from the exterior of the building to an individual room or workspace with any surplus light directed to a centralized system for Photovoltaic or solar thermal energy capture. Consequently, 100% of the light energy striking a SmartLight treated window is captured either as light, heat or electricity.
To deal with the inconsistent levels of sun light, and nighttime occupancy, artificially produced light is dynamically generated then combined proportionally with natural sunlight to produce consistent levels of light. When an office calls for a particular light level during a cloudy interval, the centralized electric lights beam supplemental light in reverse through the SmartLight fixtures and transoms increasing light levels dynamically, providing only as much additional light as needed. At nighttime, the centralized lighting can respond to calls for light, turning on only the fixtures necessary to provide the light needed. Centralization also provides an opportunity to effectively capture or isolate the heat from electric lighting fixtures and simplifies maintenance operations. At the core of the system is an intelligent control logic that determines how best to channel light based on all demands and environmental conditions.
The objective of this proposal is to validate the concept and functionality of the SmartLight system."