SBIR Phase I: Ambient-Pressure Plasma Degassing for Low Cost Vacuum Glass

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014

$150K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

V-Glass LLC
W265N3011 Peterson Drive Array
Pewaukee, WI 53072
Principal Investigator, Firm POC

Abstract

The broader impact/commercial potential of this project will be to remove a barrier to commercialization of low-cost vacuum glass, a major building energy efficiency improvement. Universal use (unachievable but a useful point of reference) could reduce total U.S. energy use by 5% (about 4 quadrillion BTU/year), more than $15 billion/year at today?s natural gas prices, while adding minimal cost to building infrastructure. This disruptive technology will claim a large share of the new and retrofit building market. Rapid market penetration will be driven by the classic value proposition much better performance for the same cost, eliminating the need for government subsidy. In the near term, the customers will be manufacturers of high-end windows for use in homes around the world. Germany and Russia have their own vacuum glass development programs; a successful development will ensure the U.S. stays at the forefront. This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project aspires to demonstrate the feasibility of removing residual surface gases from the inside of vacuum glass assemblies using a room temperature process. This necessary manufacturing step is traditionally achieved using a high-temperature bakeout process, which eliminates the possibility of supplying tempered vacuum glass (25% of the market). Research will be performed on an ambient pressure plasma degassing process, which can be carried out at room temperature. Risks include 1) failure to prevent re-adsorption of moisture prior to sealing leading to longer cycle times and short product life, 2) arcing due to the presence of the metal foil seal, low-emissivity metal coatings, 3) varying pane sizes in the same machine, and 4) excessive cycle time and inert gas wastage leading to high cost. This project will build upon atmospheric pressure surface treatment research by the subawardee, the Center for Plasma-Aided Manufacturing at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.