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Nanocoating Startup Nets $746K Grant

Friday, February 26, 2016

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The National Science Foundation has awarded an Arkansas-based startup a six-figure grant for its work on a glass coating said to make the material anti-reflective, self-cleaning and highly transparent.

WattGlass LLC, founded in 2014 to commercialize the coating developed at the University of Arkansas, will use the $746,366 grant to further develop the patent-pending coating technology, the University of Arkansas said in a statement announcing the award.

The coating virtually eliminates reflection, glare and fogging on glass and other transparent materials using a proprietary nanoparticle coating, according to the company.

Matt Reynolds, University of Arkansas
Matt Reynolds, University of Arkansas

The National Science Foundation has awarded a $746,366 grant to WattGlass LLC to further develop the University of Arkansas’ patent-pending coating technology that makes glass anti-reflective, self-cleaning and highly transparent.

The nanoparticle-based coating will also increase the efficiency of solar panels and reduce their cleaning and maintenance costs, said Corey Thompson, founder and chief technology officer for WattGlass, a Genesis Technology Incubator client at the Arkansas Research and Technology Park.

Self-Cleaning Solar Panels

“Solar panels collect dust, dirt and grime, which reduces output and increases the cost per watt,” said Thompson. “With our anti-reflective and self-cleaning coating, more light penetrates the glass to be turned into electricity by the solar cells.”

The coating’s nanostructure causes a self-cleaning effect on the glass by changing the way water reacts to its surface, according to Thompson. A drop of water on a conventional piece of glass will form into a bead and usually remains still, he said.

“With our coating, that drop of water spreads rapidly and when it does that it picks up dirt and other contaminants from the surface and literally pushes them to the edge of the glass,” he explained.

“A light rain that would normally create mud on the surface of the panels suddenly is able to clean off the majority of the dirt.”

WattGlass
Watt Glass LLC

WattGlass is looking into ways to apply its coating technology for automotive, consumer, building glass and solar photovoltaic panels.

According to the company website, the coating costs less than $0.50 per square meter and is made from commercially available materials.

WattGlass is looking into ways to apply its coating technology for automotive, consumer, building glass and solar photovoltaic panels.

Expanding Capabilities

The management team currently includes Thompson, co-inventor of the WattGlass technology, and Justin Cleveland, who serves as COO. Cleveland has extensive experience in providing technological and logistical solutions to large-scale manufacturing companies, the company's site says.

The National Science Foundation Phase II grant came through the Small Business Innovation Research Program, which allows federal agencies to stimulate technological innovation in the private sector by strengthening small businesses that meet federal research and development needs.

The grant will also enable the company to add two employees to the staff, said Thompson, who established WattGlass while a graduate student at the university.

   

Tagged categories: Coatings Technology; Colleges and Universities; Funding; Glass coatings; Grants; National Science Foundation; Research and development; Self-cleaning coatings; Solar; University of Arkansas; WattGlass

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