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Purdue’s whitest of white paints; Using white paint for global cooling

Purdue University Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Xiulin Ruan, has created what is now known as the world’s whitest paint, with the ability to increase the reflection of sunlight, thus reversing some effects of global warming and increasing energy conservation.


What Does White Paint Do?

This new creation will have lasting positive effects on the way people live if this paint is distributed widely. The paint is said to have cooling effects, limiting the amount of heat absorbed by the earth or other surfaces. Using the paint to coat the rooftops of homes and buildings would result in significant internal cooling. This would limit the need for air conditioning, conserving the energy of a household during the hot summer months.

“If you were to use this paint to cover a roof area of about 1,000 square feet, we estimate that you could get a cooling power of 10 kilowatts. That’s more powerful than the central air conditioners used by most houses,” said Ruan, the professor responsible for the engineering team that created the paint.


The Science Behind the Paint

The paint has the ability to reflect up to 98.1 percent of sunlight and sends infrared heat away from the earth, allowing for less heat to be absorbed by the land. Regular commercial paint is known to grow hot in the sunlight, only reflecting about 80 to 90 percent of heat from the atmosphere, while this super paint cools surfaces by -13 to -7 degrees Celcius.

The paint obtained its super-white shade with the addition of a chemical compound called barium sulfate. This ingredient is typically used to create white photo paper and even white-colored cosmetic products. With the idea that light tends to scatter, the engineers used a variety of particle sizes of barium sulfate infused in the paint. This allows the paint to scatter the light it’s reflecting more efficiently. 

The study had been going on for six years before they’d finally perfected their product. They’d even made a “rough draft” of the paint back in October, calling it the “ultra-white paint,” made out of calcium carbonate, which is found in many rocks and seashells.


A New Future

Scientists are making many steps toward the process of radiative cooling to reduce the cost of regulating home temperatures and decrease the detrimental effects of global warming. The paint requires several thick layers in order to be fully effective and the effects vary depending on roofing material.

Although global warming has severely affected the temperature of our planet and surfaces, scientists and engineers are working hard to mitigate its effects and eventually, reverse it entirely.


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