New Incredible Polymer Coating Keeps Buildings Cool

Posted: Sep 28 2018, 7:42am CDT | by , Updated: Sep 28 2018, 7:57am CDT, in Latest Science News


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New Incredible Polymer Coating Keeps Building Cool
Credit: Jyotirmoy Mandal/Columbia Engineering

Highly-reflective coating with air voids acts as a spontaneous air cooler.

Researchers from Columbia Engineering have invented a revolutionary coating that acts as a kind of air conditioning system for buildings and keep them cool despite the heat outside. When applied to a surface, the porous foam-like structure of the polymer coating reflects incoming sunlight back into the space, which in turn creates relatively cooler buildings without consuming energy.

The new coating uses passive daytime radiative cooling (PDRC), the process by which objects naturally reflect sunlight and radiate heat to the colder atmosphere. However, PDRC designing has historically been challenging. These designs are mostly complex or costly and cannot be easily applied on rooftops and buildings.

To solve this, researchers produced PDRC polymer coating with nano-to-microscale air voids. Its porous structure maximizes the efficiency of the coating.

So far white paints have been the benchmark for PDRC. White paints typically reflect about 80% of visible light but still absorb ultraviolet and near-infrared rays due to their pigments. Researchers used phase-inversion technique to replace the pigments in white paint with air voids. By incorporating this design, researches reflected any incoming solar rays back into the atmosphere.

“Nature offers many ways for heating and cooling, some of which are extremely well known and widely studied and others that are poorly known. Radiative cooling – by using the sky as a heat sink – belongs to the latter group, and its potential has been strangely overlooked by materials scientists until a few years ago," said Uppsala University Physics Professor Claes-Göran Granqvist, who was not involved with the study. "The publication by Mandal et al. highlights the importance of radiative cooling and represents an important breakthrough by demonstrating that hierarchically porous polymer coatings, which can be prepared cheaply and conveniently, give excellent cooling even in full sunlight.”

This extraordinarily simple idea is inexpensive and efficiently reflects the solar energy that would otherwise warm buildings up.

"Now is a critical time to develop promising solutions for sustainable humanity,” said Yuan Yang, assistant professor of materials science and engineering. "This year, we witnessed heat waves and record-breaking temperatures in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. It is essential that we find solutions to this climate challenge, and we are very excited to be working on this new technology that addresses it."

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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