Inexpensive Polymer Film May Soon Be Used To Cool Buildings Instead Of Electricity

Big cities and metropolitan areas use lots of electricity. And the design of buildings such as skyscrapers — which are often made of steel and glass — causes those structures to warm quickly, especially with global climate change raising temperatures across the planet.

But researchers at the University of Buffalo have designed a revolutionary new system which cools buildings using a low-cost polymer/aluminum film, according to Science Daily:

“The system consists of a special material — an inexpensive polymer/aluminum film — that’s installed inside a box at the bottom of a specially designed solar ‘shelter.’ The film helps to keep its surroundings cool by absorbing heat from the air inside the box and transmitting that energy through the Earth’s atmosphere into outer space. The shelter serves a dual purpose, helping to block incoming sunlight, while also beaming thermal radiation emitted from the film into the sky.”

Lyu Zhou, a Ph.D. candidate in electrical engineering in the University at Buffalo School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, explains the process:

“‘The polymer stays cool as it dissipates heat through thermal radiation, and can then cool down the environment. This is called radiative or passive cooling, and it’s very interesting because it does not consume electricity — it won’t need a battery or other electricity source to realize cooling.'”

The size of the system to be installed is also easy for any building to accommodate: The shelter-and-box system measures about 18 inches tall, 10 inches wide, and 10 inches long. The units are placed on the roof of the building until they cover it, providing a maximum cooling effect for the structure.

And the temperature differential is substantial, with the film and solar shelter reducing the temperature of an enclosed space by 11 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and about 20 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

Perhaps the greatest advance seen in the system is the lightweight, inexpensive polymer film which is:

“Made from a sheet of aluminum coated with a clear polymer called polydimethylsiloxane. The aluminum reflects sunlight, while the polymer absorbs and dissipates heat from the surrounding air.”

Once installed in large buildings in urban areas, the revolutionary system from the University of Buffalo could help save both energy and money while also reducing the carbon footprint of skyscrapers around the world.


Featured Image Via Needpix


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Andrew Bradford

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