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 Glass Processing Automation Days event, sponsored by Fenetech, in Cleveland two weeks ago.

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 (IG) units 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 soft-coat 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 piece de resistance, 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.

This is one of several sample charts McHugh provided. Look for more in August USGlass. (Click on the image to view at a larger size.)

It’s a fascinating look at the future of insulating glass. And because it’s so important, we have taken the unusual step of previewing the white paper in our August issue.

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.

3 Responses to “Insulating Comes of Age”

  1. Fussy Gus says:

    The white paper is interesting and it is a good start. However, I would like to see some more information.

    We have seen a stainless steel spacer make a huge improvement with U values using NFRC’s CMAST calculations. Instead of spending $ on inert gas, a spacer change may make a difference. The combinations we modeled made a big improvement even without argon.

    Finally, what is the payback for the upfront increased cost? We haven’t even started to discuss SHGC.

    Great start. It shows some common sense still exists.

  2. Larry Slaton says:

    I agree it’s a good start. It’s a bit surprising this hasn’t been done til now. It’s a good roadmap for window manufacturers who want to evaluate cost per unit vs. energy savings. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Rizwanulla Khan says:

    It’s really a good tool for Glass Techical people, Sales team & Counsultants. The presentation of Mr. Mike.. Looks quite simple for a glass man. Yet, very intreasting and important. It is tool and template. So that nothing much is missed both technically and commercially.
    Rizwanulla Khan
    Senior Vice President
    Manufacturing & Operation
    Glass Llc

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