Innovation That Matters

| Photo source University of Central Florida

Energy-saving paints inspired by butterflies 

Property & Construction

A UCF researcher has developed a different way to produce more environmentally friendly and lightweight coloured paint

Spotted: Worldwide, air conditioning and electric fans account for nearly 20 per cent of the electricity used in buildings today. But, as University of Central Florida (UCF) researcher Debashis Chanda hopes to prove, even the smallest changes to your home can make it cooler. Drawing inspiration from butterflies, the professor in UCF’s NanoScience Technology Center has created an environment-friendly multicolour alternative to pigment-based colourants that could also be used to keep buildings cooler.  

Chanda’s research group harnessed aluminium and aluminium oxide to create its bio-inspired colours. These neutral materials become colourful by controlling how light is reflected, scattered, and absorbed. This way, Chanda’s paints do not require artificial synthesis in their manufacturing to change the electronic property of a molecule, as is necessary for creating the pigment-based colours currently on the market. These sustainably produced colour flakes are mixed with a commercial binder to produce longer-lasting paints of all colours. 

The butterfly paints reflect the entire infrared spectrum, meaning that they absorb less heat. This effect is so point that the area underneath the surface of the paint is 25 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than if it were covered with standard commercial paint. Chanda explains: “Over 10 per cent of total electricity in the U.S. goes toward air conditioner usage. The temperature difference plasmonic paint promises would lead to significant energy savings. Using less electricity for cooling would also cut down carbon dioxide emissions, lessening global warming.” 

Looking ahead, Chanda is planning to explore the paint’s energy-saving properties further to improve its viability as a commercial paint. 

Springwise has previously spotted other innovations that use paint for temperature control, including an ultra-white paint used to cool buildings and a paint that uses graphene for improved insulation.

Written By: Georgia King




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