You’ve probably heard of the world’s blackest paint, Vantablack, before. It’s so black that shapes covered in it are not discernable by the human eye. I didn’t even think that the opposite—the world’s “whitest” paint—would be a thing until I saw this article on my Reddit feed. Academic researchers have invented a white paint that is so effective at reflecting light and energy back into space, it actually maintains a temperature that is 4.5C below the ambient temperature around it, even in direct sunlight!
Now, why is this so cool? If you paint structures with this paint, a majority of the heat and infrared energy from the sun will be reflected back out into space and reduce the need for things like air conditioning if the structure is a human dwelling. White roofs have been used for centuries to help mitigate the heat, but this paint is far more efficient than standard white paints. It is able to reflect, rather than absorb, UV rays resulting in a 98% efficiency compared to normal white paint which is usually around 80-90% efficient at reflecting light.
The paint’s pigment is made from barium sulphate, as opposed to the conventional titanium dioxide in most white paints. It is actually cheaper to make with barium sulphate at commercial scale, but some still aren’t sure if the paint’s usage would actually offset the amount of carbon needed to mine enough barium sulphate to create it in the first place. Regardless, scientists are very excited by the possibilities this new paint presents on helping solve the climate crisis. I’m hoping for the best.
If you want to read more about the specifics and science behind the new paint, check out the source article from perdue.edu.
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