Expert Interview with Eugene Veerkamp of Brightlands Materials Center

We are joined today by Eugene Veerkamp, Senior Business Developer of Brightlands Materials Center (part of TNO) near Maastricht in The Netherlands.

About Eugene Veerkamp

Brightlands Materials Center - Eugene Veerkamp Headshot

Eugene has a bachelor’s degree in Chemical-Material Technology and started to work, immediately after his study, in the ceramic and glass industry.

Before joining TNO / Brightlands Materials Center he worked for 22 years at Johnson Matthey as a Commercial & Technical Manager and was in contact with all types of glass production and processing companies (automotive, architectural, hollow ware and bottles) and with all world wide operating glass companies.

At Johnson Matthey the focus was on specialized ceramic coatings and precious metal paints. Within TNO his role is to link the value chain (and in particular the glass industry) to smart glass developments and developments in BIPV.

Brightlands Materials Center - SunSmart panel backdrop building

Thank you for joining us Eugene, and welcome to Smart Glass World !

Eugene: Thank you, Manoj. Almost 5 years ago I joined Brightlands Materials Center to participate in the development of Smart Glazing and in particular Thermochromic Glazing. Due to my contacts with all international glass companies world-wide I realised that smart glazing will be an important part of the energy transition within the built environment.

Q. Your patented SunSmart thermochromic coating is aimed primarily at blocking heat (by absorption), rather than providing shading. What are the benefits of this approach compared to smart glass technologies which mostly switch their optical properties?

Eugene: We aim at a widespread use of our new development and purely on the highest possible gain in energy saving. We believe that this is possible in case you do not change the current properties of standard high-efficiency glass. Our development is an upgrade of high-efficiency glass without major change in transparency and/or color.

Q. What advantages does your thermochromic coating offer in comparison to existing thermochromic technologies? Are there any disadvantages?

Eugene: As mentioned already, our thermochromic coating doesn’t switch in the visible part of the spectrum, and therefore the glass remains transparent. It only switches in the IR-spectrum (above 700 nm). I understand that this could be a disadvantage as in some cases shading might be desired. This transparency can be tuned, depending on requirement between ±50-75% and also the (non-visible) switching temperature can be tuned between -5 and 68˚C (where we aim for a temperature at ±21˚C). As a result, our SunSmart is perfectly optimized for moderate climates, with hot summers and cold winters. Of course this should be affordable and by wet chemical coating and low material costs (with a possible annual saving of Euro 23,70 / m²) a return of investment of less than 7 years is more than feasible. A huge advantage of thermochromic in general is the fact that installation doesn’t require wiring and also for recycling (end of life) it can be handled as normal glass (instead of electronic waste).

Q. Thanks to the dopants in your thermochromic coating, I understand the switching temperature can be tuned from 68ºC down to -5ºC. How do you intend to work with OEM manufacturers to tailor your solutions for different climates and different use cases?

Eugene: Cooperation with glass companies in general will be important. Not only with OEM’s, but also with glass processors. The current status of the development is pilot scale, but fine-tuning of the switching temperature, color and transparency should be done with the partners in the value chain. Currently we are working in consortia with OEM’s and glass processors in order to  optimize and upscale the SunSmart window.

Q. I understand you are currently testing at Eindhoven University on a 1m x 1m laminated IGU. What tests do you anticipate are necessary to make your thermochromic coating compliant with the needs of the international glass industry?

Eugene: Currently we are testing the switching behavior in a real time environment, the nr. of switches and the energy performance of our SunSmart windows. Our coating (on side 2 of an IGU) is similar to a low E-coating and must therefore fulfill similar tests (this will be done in cooperation with the glass industry). The only difference is the switching fatigue, for which we perform tests in our lab.

Q. You mentioned already that the time-to-market might be in the range of 2-3 years, which is actually not long for the construction industry. Do you think you would have the most impact on the glass industry by licensing / selling your IP to coating manufacturers or to glass processors?

Eugene: This is still an open question and under investigation. The IP is currently owned by TNO and indeed in general we focus on licensing. There are several possible partners in the value chain, from coating-pigment suppliers up to glass processors and maybe also building companies. It is obvious that I expect the most successful route to market with the current partners in the different consortia.

Brightlands Materials Center, The Netherlands

Image Credits: Brightlands Materials Center