White houses often seem dull, but they can save the planet. According to USA Today, researchers at Purdue University have developed an ultra-white paint that reflects 98.1 percent of the sun's radiation while emitting infrared heat. What's more, the paint is already officially listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.
As it keeps the surface cooler than the environment (conventional paint heats the surface), it can effectively replace air conditioning in some cases - its cooling capacity is 10 kW for a 1,000-square-foot roof (about 93 square meters), even more than a standard air conditioner.
There are paints designed to reflect heat, but they reflect no more than 90 percent of sunlight and do not cool surfaces. The trick to this development was to use a high ratio of barium sulfate, a compound often found in cosmetics and photo paper, with different particle sizes. The wider size range helps to scatter more of the light spectrum and thus reflect more sunlight.
It's not yet clear when this ultra-white paint will be available in stores, but the researchers intend to fully commercialize their work. They have teamed up with a company to mass produce and sell the paint and have already filed a patent application.
If the paint lives up to expectations, it could play an important role in combating climate change. Paint can reduce or eliminate the need for air conditioning in some homes, especially in warm regions with enough sunlight. It can reduce emissions and energy consumption and save you money on hot summer days.
Illustrations: Purdue University/John Underwood