Hi-End aluminium windows - from energy-sink to energy-efficient. Part 2. Today

By Bogdan Grebenyuk, Product Manager at Thermevo
on May 22, 2018
Today's energy efficient aluminium windows have come a long way since the metal was first specified in buildings.
The energy efficient aluminium windows available today are the result of many years' worth of research and design developments. Read the first article of this blog to find out more about the process of energy efficient modernization in aluminium window products. From the introduction of a polyamide 6.6 insulating strip in a window frame to the research of high thermal insulation aluminium windows for skyscrapers, it is all there. In this, the second and final section, the latest technological developments are discussed.

Foamed EPDM Gasket Profiles

One of the key areas for any maker of high end energy efficient aluminium windows is where the glazing comes into contact with the frame. As such, the gasket profile must produce a continuous seal without any holes or both the thermal and noise insulating properties of the window unit will suffer. Originally borrowed from the automotive industry where it had been used for years, foamed EPDM produces excellent results in architecturally pleasing aluminium windows. In the car manufacturing industry, low-density EPDM foam is often needed to meet the shape of the window, but in construction window frames tend to be square, allowing for higher density products to be used with superior thermal retention properties as well as greater durability. Another important property of EPDM gaskets is that they are resistant to ultraviolet light, something that they will be exposed to every day. From a designer's point of view, they are also available in various colours to meet virtually any palette.

"Every day we are paying more for energy than we should due to poor insulation... [as well as] heating and cooling equipment - money we could save by investing in energy efficiency."

Bernie Sanders

Powder Coatable Foam Made from Polyamides

Among the more recent developments in the sort of thermal break technologies that have come to signify the energy efficient aluminium windows market is the introduction of polyamide foam. Used in windows, doors and aluminium façade systems, this powder coatable foam is a recyclable material, which is a big advantage to specifiers of aluminium frames because all of the window units can be re-used at the end of their lives. Offering exceptional U-values, this sort of foam offers high levels of resistance to any chemicals it might come into contact with, as well as being robust enough to stand up to transportation and assembly on site within the product.

Windows Suitable for Passive House Installation

The desire to build a completely carbon-free house, or at least one that controls its internal temperature entirely by its design, has been a driver in the window manufacturing industry in recent years. Increasing amounts of time and effort go into developing thermal break technology so that things like an ABS insulating strip is not simply fitted in an aluminium window frame to offer an untested degree of heat retention. Nowadays, the precise position of such strips is studied to determine their optimal configuration and the degree to which they must not touch the other structural elements of the frame. Indeed, the highest quality aluminium passive house frames now restrict glass edge seal losses by cleverly augmenting the degree to which the glazing is inserted into the frame, all the time being mindful not to make contact with the thermal break system fitted. Furthermore, cutting edge passive house window design also makes use of thermally separated spacers placed at the edge of the seal, sometimes referred to as the 'warm edge' system.

The Future for Aluminium Windows?

Now well established as an architecturally sought after material for windows in all kinds of building, further developments in the field of energy saving, and of even using fenestration to harvest energy, are foreseen by most people in the industry today. Incorporating aluminium window designs into historic buildings and developing new ways of making aluminium frames insulating to noise, as well as heat, are expected to be hot topics for many window manufacturers and construction industry professionals in the years to come.

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