Volume 47, Issue 7 - July 2012
Insulating Comes of Age
Anyone who has any doubt the ’10s will be the decade of insulating glass did not get to hear Mike McHugh’s excellent recent presentation about the future of insulating glass. McHugh, president of Integrated Automation Systems, gave one of those clichéd presentations during the recent Glass Processing Automation Days event, organized by Fenetech, in Cleveland in June.
I say clichéd presentation because you could describe it as an eye-popping and head-jerking seminar along with every other jaw-dropping cliché you could imagine and that still wouldn’t do it justice. And, yes, you could hear a pin drop throughout the whole thing. No one left, let alone even stood up. Nary a Blackberry nor iPhone was checked during the entire presentation.
That’s because McHugh, in cooperation with Quanex, did quite a bit of modeling using different types of insulating glass units (IGUs) with varying characteristics. They varied a number of factors including ones you would expect such as number of lites, IG unit thickness, type of airspace fill (argon, krypton, air, etc.), types of glass including hard and/or softcoat low-E, the number of surfaces coated, and the edge effect of the spacer. Then they went further and added a number of additional, less usual variants such as the amount of silver coating (one, two or three) and which surfaces were coated (including Surface No. 4 in doubles and Surface No. 6 in triples).
But they weren’t done yet because they also modeled a number of “asymmetrical” triple-pane units, which had different thicknesses of space between the first and second lites and the second and third. And they didn’t assume just one fill either; varying percentages of argon, krypton and air were used in each.
Finally, and this truly is the pièce de résistance, they figured out both the cost to make each unit and the Energy Star rating it would receive. The result is a roadmap of how much it costs to achieve better R-values. Some relatively inexpensive upgrades can better the R-value by 2 or 3 points, while other more costly ones might yield just another point.
It’s a fascinating look at the future of insulating glass. If last decade was the decade that low-E came of age, one look at McHugh’s work will show you why this decade belongs to insulating.