Tuesday, November 9, 2010

VW Group Testing Ice- and Fog-Free Windshields

For those of us living in colder climates, ice can be a real hassle during winter time; scraping rock like formations from your windshield isn't the best thing that can happen to you in freezing temperatures... But the VW Group in association with the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Technology (IST) in Braunschweig, may soon provide drivers a solution to this pesky problem.

Researchers have introduced what they claim to be the first anti-fogging and anti-icing car windscreen. Unlike heated windows, the new glass panes make use of a physical principle that does not allow an ice layer to form in the first place, even at temperatures as low as -18 C or -0.4 F.

The Volkswagen Group says the secret of the innovation lies in a wafer-thin transparent coating of indium tin oxide that is applied to the window and in theory, stops heat from going upwards and prevents or delays cooling of the glass surface to below the dew point.

"We call this a 'Low-E' (low thermal emissivity) coating. Applied to the outer glazing, it prevents heat from radiating skyward. We are proud of this innovation and will promote it throughout the Group. That is because an ice-free window is an added convenience to our customers," explains Thomas Drescher of Volkswagen Development.

"The 'Low-E coating' cannot prevent ice formation or condensation entirely, but it can significantly reduce the likelihood of it happening," Drescher added.

The VW Group says is still has to work around some problems before it offers this technology on production models. One such issue in the current development phase is that new coating interferes with radio transmission impairing radio and mobile phone reception.

"It will take some time before the ice-free car windscreen is market-ready, but we are working intensively toward this goal. The bottom line is that for the Volkswagen Group, the ice-free window represents a successful innovation that is unique worldwide," said Drescher.