Tin and its compounds (tin (IV) oxide, tin (IV) chloride, butyltin trichloride, methyltin trichloride, dimethyltin dichloride) have found a new home, in the building industry as a vital ingredient for the development of low-emissivity glass or Low-eGlass, as it is most commonly known.
For many years, very thin films of tin oxide coating have been used to strengthen and ensure scratch resistance in glass bottles and jars.
Low-eGlass is coated in layers of tin oxide during production. It can reflect up to 70 per cent of infrared radiation, energy that turns into heat inside a building, and at the same time allows visible light to pass into the building unhindered.
According to the International Tin Research Institute (ITRI), there is a lot of interest being shown in thicker films of tin-based coatings. Tin film remains fully transparent to the eye and is electrically conductive when mixed with a number of different elements.
The result of the advantages for tin-based coatings has seen a widespread and growing use of the film in electroluminescent displays, electrical field shielding, de-icing windscreens for aircraft and cars, as well as Low-eGlass windows in buildings.
The cost savings available for homeowners from reduced energy bills has seen Low-eGlass become a popular choice when building a new home.
Low-eGlass also reflects interior heat back into the building as it tries to escape to the colder temperatures outside during winter, and also reflects ultraviolet light, which helps prevents furniture from fading.
The amount of glass being coated for all of these products is very large. According to ITRI, the area of glass being coated in the global market is estimated to consume 4,000 – 5,000 tonnes of tin every year and this amount is predicted to rise rapidly as the need for people to be conscious of energy consumption increases.
Tin is helping to create a more comfortable place to live whilst at the same time keeping increasing energy costs down.