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CANADIAN START-UP MIRU SMART TECHNOLOGIES IS SHATTERING GLASS CEILINGS
By Suzanne Forcese
An advanced materials university spin-off based in Vancouver, B.C. is showcasing a bright new view of the environment with cutting-edge smart window technology
In solving a major part of our carbon emissions problems, Miru is positioned to become a world leader by throwing current concepts of glass out the window with electrochromic technology.
Electrochromic Glass (“smart”glass) changes from light to dark (clear to opaque) and back again at the push of a button– using an app, smart device or voice command. Residential Light Photo Courtesy Miru
Miru’s Smart Technology controls the tint level of windows without compromising the view— Residential Dark Photo Courtesy Miru
WATERTODAY had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Curtis Berlinguette, Founder and CEO of Miru Smart Technologies.
“If we want to solve our carbon emissions problems, windows have to be part of the solution,” Berlinguette told WT. “Forty per cent of out greenhouse gases (GHG) come from the heating and cooling of buildings.”
Berlinguette who is Professor of Chemistry at the University of British Columbia’s Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute pioneered a coating process about 10 years ago in the lab that was originally geared toward the chemical industry. “We then focused that knowledge on windows.”
Dr. Curtis Berlinguette admits there were a few minor growing “panes” in bringing the research to commercialization. “The window has to be clear – there is no room for failure.”
Glass allows light in providing aesthetics as well as health benefits. The down-side is the expensive waste of energy that harms our environment. Curtains and blinds are a technological kludge that can be eliminated by fitting our homes, offices with smart windows. The scientific idea is called electrochromism in which materials change color when an electric voltage is applied on demand.
“It’s a really cool technology,” Berlinguette adds, “A simple click on your SmartPhone can dim the window without losing the view.”
That concept gave birth to the Company’s name. “Miru is Japanese for ‘a pleasant view’,” Berlinguette explains.
Miru Smart Technologies which has grown from a team of 2 to 15 engineers and scientists within a year has recently expanded to a 12,000 square foot pilot facility in Vancouver. Photo courtesy Miru
“We have the infrastructure to build test and validate our window product.”
The manufacturing process starts with cutting, cleaning and preparing a glass as well as a metal precursor for the fabrication of the Miru window. “It is here in our dust free room where we coat our metal precursors onto the glass. We then take this coated window and put it into our patented Miru reactor utilizing the latest technology and robotic dispensing.”
Berlinguette and his team have developed the world’s first self –driving robot for accelerating and optimizing thin film materials.
The world’s first self-driving robot will accelerate lab discovery to marketplace time. Photo Courtesy Miru
“Thin films are important to the clean tech industry because you require thin films in solar cells, in batteries and you need them in more efficient windows. The challenge right now is that it takes a really long time to take these technologies to market – typically over 20 years.
“Experiments that would have taken us a year to do we can now do in a period of hours.”
Another advantage of the Miru process is in the sealing of the electrochromic glass together. “The whole process is done without ever using a vacuum or high temperature.” This reduces production costs by 60%. And the consumer’s control over incoming solar heat and light levels will result in an energy consumption reduction.
As individuals, corporations, communities and governments around the globe strive to implement smarter, greener and more resilient business practices, the market for smart technologies proven to conserve energy and reduce carbon footprints has never been greater.
“Our proprietary deposition method enables uniform, optically-pure coatings that can be sprayed at ambient condition. That has the potential to disrupt the electrochromic window industry as we tailor our product to the individual needs of the consumer.”
Berlinguette expects that in less than a year the Company will be transitioning Smart buildings to incorporate Smart Windows.
Miru Smart Technologies – taking great pains to bring green tech from B.C. to industry, residential, and automotive markets across North America and beyond.
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