Window Technologies: Argon Gas Fills
An improvement that can be made to the thermal performance of insulating glazing units is to reduce the conductance of the air space between the layers. Originally, the space was filled with air or flushed with dry nitrogen just prior to sealing. In a sealed glass insulating unit, air currents between the two panes of glazing carry heat to the top of the unit and settle into cold pools at the bottom. Filling the space with a less conductive, more viscous, or slow-moving gas minimizes the convection currents within the space, conduction through the gas is reduced, and the overall transfer of heat between the inside and outside is reduced.
Manufacturers have introduced the use of argon gas fills, with measurable improvement in thermal performance. Argon is inexpensive, nontoxic, nonreactive, clear, and odorless. The optimal spacing for an argon-filled unit is the same as for air, about 1/2 inch (11-13 mm).