Peter Petit isn’t so brash as to take credit for having created vacuum-insulating window glass, but the founder and chief executive officer of Pewaukee, Wisc.-based V-Glass LLC thinks he’s made it better than before.
His design won the advanced manufacturing category in the 2013 Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest last month and feels his invention could eventually revolutionize the entire window industry as a whole by drastically reducing the amount of costly heat lost from homes through traditional windows.
“If we’re able to accomplish our goal and hit our mark,” Petit says, “we could possibly save up to five percent of total U.S. energy use.”
Petit likens his glass to a standard Thermos bottle. Two lites are sealed at the edges, with glass spacers as thin as a human hair keeping the two lites from touching. A low-E coating lowers radiation heat loss and the vacuum eliminates conduction and convection heat loss.
The necessary edge seal and spacers still need to be tested further and perfected if the product is going to make the jump to the average home. The spacers between the two lites of glass must also be small enough that they are not visible from more than a few feet away. Petit is still developing and testing the kind flexible metal foil seal needed along the edge of the glass, but he also needs to prove the vacuum inside the glass can last for more than 30 years.
He remains confident about successfully tweaking things and having it available in roughly two years to homes in every type of climate.
“It’s going to take some time still,” Petit says, “but with new buildings, this could be a very good option.”
That could prove welcome news to homeowners eager to trim exorbitant energy costs, some 30 to 50 percent of which can be directly attributed to heat gain or loss through the windows, Petit says.
Remedying that longstanding problem with vacuum-insulating window glass is hardly a new concept. Other companies such as NSG and Guardian already offer vacuum-insulating glass.
Rather than manufacturing its own windows, V-Glass plans to sell primarily to large window companies that routinely do the work of incorporating the glazing into a window frame.
“I know that it we can plug these holes, we can make a big impact,” Petit says.