By Amy SussmanPublished Nov 17, 2018 11:07:21An entire generation of flooring engineered with smarter technology could help the environment and save consumers money.
A new generation engineered with intelligent materials that are engineered to use less energy is being developed to help with the construction of smart floors, such as ones with insulation, windows and other features.
“This new generation has the potential to be an environmental winner, because the energy costs are lower,” said Dr. Christopher D. Lee, a professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University who is the inventor of the floor-in-place technology.
“If you have a floor that is made with smart materials, the energy savings are huge, especially for the homeowner.”
Lee’s research shows that smart materials can make the floor of a home more energy efficient, while also reducing the amount of carbon dioxide that gets into the air.
Lee and his colleagues tested the flooring on homes with a new generation smart material called “cadmium” and found it had a net energy savings of about 5 percent compared with the original floor.
Lee’s flooring was engineered with the help of a team led by Michael R. Dickson, professor of materials science and engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The team is collaborating with researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Purdue University to expand the research to other types of floors.
Dickson, who is also a member of the team, said he was thrilled that Lee’s research has been able to get this far.
“The idea of smart materials is that you don’t have to use any materials at all,” Dickson said.
“You just apply a process called passive absorption.
The whole floor is made from materials that absorb all the energy in the air, and then you can turn that energy into the electrical current that powers the lights.
That’s what makes this technology so cool.”
Dickson said that the new flooring would save energy and environmental problems by reducing the carbon dioxide in the building’s air and water.
“I think we’re looking at saving millions of dollars,” Denton said.
In a report published in the journal Nature, Dickson and his team found that flooring made with cadmium could reduce energy use in the entire building by more than one-third, which could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 20 percent.
“If you look at the carbon footprint of a typical house, it’s probably somewhere between 10 and 20 percent,” Dolan said.
“We’ve created flooring that can reduce the carbon emissions that are already happening in the world.”
Lee, the lead author of the paper, said his team has also found that smart floors could be more energy-efficient because they are more efficient at absorbing the energy from a variety of sources, including solar panels and wind turbines.
“One of the biggest challenges in the smart materials field is that smart material is a material that doesn’t absorb much energy, and that is why we are trying to get smart materials to absorb more energy,” Lee said.
Denton said his research also showed that the energy saving could be even greater if a smart floor is engineered to absorb heat and humidity in the house.
“You can build smart floors that absorb heat, and it’s very energy efficient,” Dinson said.
The energy saving in smart materials could have significant economic benefits, but it will require more work.
Dolan’s team is currently working on a research project that aims to develop a new type of smart material that could absorb heat without absorbing electricity.