The liquid crystal technology from the Electronics business sector of Merck is not used in displays only anymore. It is also incorporated into our eyrise glass which offers two innovative functionalities at the touch of a button: to adjust the level of incoming sunlight and to turn opaque to provide on-demand privacy. Here are a few recent examples of these applications.
No distractions on the AVUS road
Anyone who approaches the center of Berlin from the south by car on the A115 is driving on a historic road – the legendary AVUS. The “automobile traffic and training road” through the Grunewald forest was opened in1921 as the first road in Berlin exclusively for cars. The former motor racing circuit, on which the Mercedes Silver Arrow and the Auto Union racing car made their debuts, is considered a predecessor to today’s highways. Now, 100 years after the AVUS was opened, new life is being breathed into the renovated spectator stands – thanks to our Electronics business sector.
The German Federal Trunk Road Authority, which is responsible for the approval, set numerous requirements for the investor. For example, drivers must not be distracted in such a way that they drive into or onto the stands. And the light coming from the building must be reduced to protect drivers on the highway. The former commentator booth is now a glass event space. For this reason, the glass panes have been fitted with eyrise glass from Merck. The matte surface of the glass eliminates dazzling reflections of car headlights or the sun and offers immediate sun protection at all times of the day, while protecting drivers at night from being disturbed by indoor light shining out onto the road.
Liquid crystals: not just a game changer for displays
This is possible thanks to a special application of our liquid crystals, which are found in monitors or television screens. Licrivision, the transparent liquid crystal mixture that forms the basis of the eyrise glass, has special dye molecules. This mixture is inserted between two glass panes, which are provided with a conductive coating. The unique feature here is that customers can apply a low electric voltage to change the orientation of the molecules, thus regulating the penetration of light and heat. At the push of a button you can set the saturation level and therefore individually adjust the lighting conditions. This fascinates me time and again.
Pleasant (indoor) climate
At Merck, we distinguish between outdoor and indoor application when using this technology: The glazing provided by our technology automatically ensures sun protection on exterior facades. As a result, less energy is lost and the temperature increase is minimized. Overall, air conditioning costs are kept low. It should be mentioned that in Germany alone, buildings account for around 35% of final energy consumption and cause around 30% of CO2 emissions, according to the German Federal Environmental Agency. Saving energy through smart glazing is therefore key to protecting the climate in the long term.
The German Pavilion, CAMPUS GERMANY, at Expo 2020 Dubai was designed this year by Berlin-based LAVA (laboratory for Visionary Architecture) with sustainability in mind in line with the slogan “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”. The 61 installed sun protection glass panes by eyrise ensure not only a pleasant environment with a suitable temperature and shade for visitors to the exhibition but also, simultaneously better energy efficiency of the building.
Privacy at the push of a button
Indoors, with the privacy application, it is possible to change the glazing of a conference room, for example, from “transparent” to “opaque” and back in seconds. By strategically using partition wall systems, it is possible to transform an open-plan office into several private areas without preventing the sunlight from getting in. This is ideal for offices or healthcare facilities. VIP areas in retail businesses, conference centers and airports could also benefit.
One current example for this kind of “privacy glazing solution” is the “Workplace Vitality Hub” project at the high-tech campus in Eindhoven. In this office building, project participants are researching and developing new technologies and their applications in a real environment, known as a “Living Lab”. This kind of environment focuses on working people and their needs. Thanks to intelligent and intuitive technologies such as eyrise glazing, which provides the needed privacy at the push of a button, employees are to be able to work in a healthier environment and improve their performance at the same time.
Demand is increasing
Demand for these kinds of applications is constantly increasing. For this reason, at Merck, we founded our own company: eyrise B.V., based in the Netherlands. Liquid crystal glass panels up to 3.5 meters high are produced on the eyrise production line located near Eindhoven in the Netherlands. This enables a diverse range of solutions for the aesthetic as well as the functional needs of modern architecture, both indoors and outdoors.
Whether providing relaxing ambient light while simultaneously saving energy or creating privacy on demand, innovations such as eyrise enable a diverse range of application possibilities for our customers and also help solve key issues currently facing society. With current projects, such as the AVUS stands or the Workplace Vitality Hub, we are showing what is possible.
Author: Kai Beckmann, Member of the Executive Board at Merck KGaA | President BAVC (German Federation of Chemical Employers’ Associations)