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Solar building bricks might be coming your way soon

Solar building bricks might be coming your way soon

A team of researchers at the UK’s University of Exeter (UoE) have created a new technology they say could “revolutionise the construction industry” – solar cell-equipped glass building blocks.


Academics from the UoE’s Engineering, Mathematics, and Physical Science department devised the product, which is called Solar Squared. Facades using the blocks will be able to generate electricity while allowing greater amounts of daylight.


“We are aiming to build integrated, affordable, efficient and attractive solar technologies, which have the smallest impact on the local landscape. It’s an exciting venture and one that should capture the imagination of the construction industry, when looking to develop new office blocks and public buildings or infrastructure projects such as train stations and carparks,” said Professor Tapas Mallick, chief scientific advisor for Build Solar, the company subsequently formed to develop and sell Solar Squared blocks.



Solar Squared’s patent-pending design consists of an array of optical elements that cleverly focus sunlight solar cells built into each block. Cells are incorporated in each glass brick during the manufacturing process. Their important job is to collect diffuse components of sunlight, capturing the Sun’s energy in urban areas, ready for power transfer.


The bricks have been designed with modular construction in mind, so they are scalable and can be flexibly integrated into a variety of structures.


Solar Squared glass block


Regarding the impetus to push ahead with Solar Squared’s development, the UoE said: “Many construction materials deployed on the exterior of buildings could become energy-generating. Making slight adjustments to the manufacturing process of building materials could have a fundamental impact on the planet’s energy requirements.


Dr Hasan Baig, part of the Solar Squared project team, said: “Buildings consume more than 40% of the electricity produced across the globe. Deployment of standard solar technology is limited by the large area requirement and the negative visual impact. We wanted to overcome these limitations by introducing technologies that become a part of the building’s envelope.


“We now have the capability to build integrated, affordable, efficient, and attractive solar technologies as part of the building’s architecture, in places where energy demand is the highest, whilst having minimal impact on the landscape and on quality of life.”


The potential for green building elements, particularly in emerging markets such as India, is huge. Pressure on across the construction industry to ensure buildings are constructed sustainably and energy-efficiently. Solar Squared glass blocks could very well become a key building material of the future.


Build Solar is now hunting for test sites to demonstrate their invention’s effectiveness. You can get more information over at the Build Solar website.


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