ITRI wins innovation awards for thermal insulation spray and re-writable electronic paper
2011 has been another remarkable year for Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI). They have just won two first place awards in The Wall Street Journal’s Technology Innovation Awards (TIA). This marks the third consecutive year that ITRI has been a recipient of a TIA award, but the first time it has ever taken two first place awards. ITRI’s latest creations, a spray-on heat reflecting insulation for windows and a rewritable electronic paper, helped place the company in the top spot above this year’s competition.
ITRI’s top award winner in the Environmental category, “Spray-IT," was developed to help meet the growing public demand for a cost-effective way to battle energy consumption. According to Dr. Tzer-Shen Lin, division director of ITRI’s Electronic Materials & Devices Research Group, “Spray-IT thermal insulation coating is inexpensive to produce, easy to apply and environmentally friendly.” Tests have shown that the spray has the potential to reduce temperatures by 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 Celsius). The spray’s potential for addressing energy consumption issues and its minimal environmental impact could make it a highly sought after product.
Spray-on energy materials could become the norm in the future. Already, researchers at the University of Notre Dame have designed solar cells that can be applied by simply painting them on the walls. Researchers have been looking for alternative ways to apply materials in the real world, the creation of materials with liquid properties allows for a novel approach to their application.
The low-cost spray is designed to be applied to windows or other external building surfaces that allows light to pass through while reducing the workload of central air units. Spray-IT works two ways; it helps reflect heat from the sun’s rays while allowing a building’s interior to maintain its desired temperature. The spray is able to withstand extreme temperatures and exposure to the elements. Unlike current heat-reflecting building technologies that employ the use of costly silver-based films, the spray is comprised of a tin-dioxode material that is mixed with small amounts of lithium and flourine and is easily applied without the use of specialized equipment.
ITRI’s electronic paper, the “i2R e-Paper," was awarded first place in the Basic Science and Technology category. The e-paper was another invention designed with energy-saving and environmentally friendly ideas in mind. The e-paper is cheaper than current re-writable printer technology on the market and is said to have operational costs that are similar to black-and-white inkjet or laser printing. ITRI designed the e-paper with the intention of reducing the use of traditional office paper.
The i2R uses special liquid-crystal technology to display text or images on a bendable, thin plastic sheet. The sheet itself consumes no energy to display and maintain information printed on it. The durable liquid-crystal paper can be made in a variety of sizes, which allows for easier use of the paper in a wide range of consumer products.
The technology used to print a document is similar to an old-style thermal fax machine, which heats the liquid-crystal layer, causing the molecules to darken or lighten their pigmentation. Each sheet is capable of delivering a 300 dpi high-resolution image and has a 260-use life cycle. ITRI has announced plans to begin production of an e-paper product early next year.