A team of researchers has created the whitest paint in the world. It is capable of reflecting a record-breaking 98% of all light. It could have application in passively cooling objects and buildings. Consequently, it could reduce our dependence on air conditioning and help us effectively combat global warming.
Sometimes a simple idea is enough to tackle a gigantic issue. And one of the biggest issues that is becoming a threat to our planet and to human and animal lives is global warming. While it requires humongous efforts to fight global warming, researchers have shown that it’s possible to tackle some of the ill effects of rising temperature with a simple material: paint.
It’s true; researchers from Purdue University have created the whitest paint ever made. The paint can reflect 98% of all the light falling on it, including infrared rays that help keep the surface cooler. The entire building could be kept cool this way. In case you have doubts – the new paint has made its way to the Guinness World Records as the whitest paint in the world.
It took the team, including Xiangyu Li, Joseph Peoples, Peiyan Yao, and Purdue University Professor Xiulin Ruan, six years to successfully create the whitest paint. During the development years, the team tried almost hundred different materials and nearly fifty different combinations of materials to finally produce the whitest of the white shade. For comparison, the whitest paint currently available in the market can only reflect 80 to 90% of all light. On the other hand, the paint created by professor of mechanical engineering Xiulin Ruan and his team had demonstrated to reflect 98% of all light. It could lower the temperature by 4.5 degrees Celsius.
But how does this paint get so white?
The secret of the whitest paint lies in its composition. It comprises a high dose of barium sulfate – the same material used to make photo paper and white cosmetics. According to Xiangyu Li, the team tried all sorts of materials for the research. But they found out that barium sulfate is the best candidate. With barium sulfate, you can create things that are highly reflective. High reflectivity means more white.
The ‘whitest’ paint could be a weapon against global warming
When asked for the motivation behind creating such a material, the lead researcher, professor Xiulin Ruan replied, it was to save energy and fight global warming. There was no intention of breaking the world record. The team started with the simple objective of creating a paint that could reflect as much sunlight away from the surface as possible. The cooling aspect of this paint could be of huge advantage to us, says Xiulin Ruan. By helping cool the planet, it could be an effective weapon in our arsenal to fight global warming. A simple coat of the whitest paint on the roof of the building of about 90 square feet could help the surface achieve a cooling power of around 10 kW, way more than indoor air conditioners.