SEOUL, Dec. 26 (Korea Bizwire) – Patent applications pertaining to heatable glass have surged in the past few years, a good omen for drivers who have to turn their heater on and off to keep their windshield from getting too foggy.
The Korean Intellectual Property Office revealed on December 25 that 192 patent applications related to heatable glass had been registered in the past decade.
Records showed that the number of applications started to rise dramatically in 2013, as an average of 10 applications per year tripled to 32 in 2014 and grew even more to 45 in 2015.
The flurry is due to the increased application of new heating materials.
Earlier heatable glass manufacturing methods had incorporated an extremely thin film made of indium tin oxide (ITO) rather than defrosters using nichrome.
Vehicles have traditionally used nichrome defrosters on the rear windows, but the required horizontal lines made them impossible to use on the windshield.
The advantages of ITO are its superior electrical conductivity and light permeability, but its fragility and high cost of manufacture made producing it for large pieces of glass a daunting prospect.
The search for a better option than ITO led to the emergence of graphene and carbon nanotubes, considered the “dream elements” for heatable glass. Research into these potential building blocks led to the recent patent application upsurge.
Flexible yet strong, graphene and carbon nanotubes have been employed to design technologies that can heat glass up to 80 degrees Celsius in a moment’s notice, bringing the day closer when “transparent” heatable glass will become readily available.
More South Koreans (115) than foreign nationals (77), and more companies (137) than research labs (19), universities (16) and individuals (20) submitted patent applications.
Saint-Gobain Glass (51), LG Chemical (19), Paru (8), Exatech (6) and Kolon Industries, the Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials, and TGO Tech (4 each) submitted applications.
An official at the Korean Intellectual Property Office said, “Transparent heatable glass is a necessity for electric cars, which burn a lot of energy when the heater is on due to the lack of heat generated from the engine. Its uses are very diverse, extending to goggles, helmets, planes and residential solar panels, in addition to cars.”