White Paint – Dramatic Climate Impact

White Paint – Dramatic Climate Impact
July 19, 2023 Sabine Schoenberg

Indigo white used to be the white of choice for generations. Get ready to see the newly developed super white. It’s not just paint.  It’s white paint with a potentially dramatic climate impact.

Paint to Cool The Earth

It may sound like science fiction….paint with impact beyond a color?!

As reported by the NY Times a new super cool white will be commercialized shortly. Xiulin Ruan, a professor at Purdue University developed a white paint that can cool buildings.  It reportedly reflects up to 98% of sun rays through the atmosphere and into deep space.

According to Professor Ruan

“It can make surfaces as much as eight degrees Fahrenheit cooler than ambient air temperatures at midday, and up to 19 degrees cooler at night, reducing temperatures inside buildings and decreasing air-conditioning needs by as much as 40 percent. It is cool to the touch, even under a blazing sun, Dr. Ruan said. Unlike air-conditioners, the paint doesn’t need any energy to work, and it doesn’t warm the outside air.”

How Cool Is That?!

This will truly be a breakthrough in climate change.  White paint with dramatic climate impact…wow! It could not come soon enough. As the world this summer, once again experiences higher than “normal” summer heat levels all around the world people are focused on what can be done to change this trend.  Temperatures of over 150 degrees Fahrenheit in parts of the Middle East are now life-threatening.  Think of the many buildings, i.e. the many roofs in cities all around the planet that can be painted to cool the structures and, by extension, the outside air.

It could not come soon enough as newspapers around the globe report on the extraordinarily high summer temperatures. Here is Bloomberg’s temperature reporting 7/18/23 to subscribers:

Your Evening Briefing: The World Is Exploding Extreme Heat Records

Tokyo smashed a 150-year-old heat record. Rome recorded its hottest temperature ever. Phoenix hit 110 degrees—for the 19th straight day. The world is burning up under extreme heat waves turbocharged by man-made global warming. June was already the hottest on record—and 10 of the hottest days of the year were in July. Wild weather patterns—from flooding in the Eastern US to extraordinary wildfires in Greece, Switzerland, and Canada—underscore the life-threatening seriousness of a dangerously changing climate. Heat waves are increasingly deadly as they become more frequent and longer. Last year’s heat wave in Europe killed 61,000 people according to one study.

Basic Building Materials

Just prior to the COVID shutdown, I was invited to speak to architecture students at Norwalk Connecticut College (NCC). After describing various innovative, smart, healthy, green systems that I incorporated into my build project, The Greenwich House, one student asked: “Is there such a thing as a simple and affordable green building product?”. I answered: “Paint and specifically VOC-free paint makes a difference in people’s health and well-being.

While no doubt the cost of Professor Ruan’s paint will be higher than ordinary interior paint, it’s still paint! Just think about it: Paint looks to reduce temperature levels in urban areas. How cool is that…?! Move over Indigo white.

Material breakthroughs are happening. Real climate change can happen as a result, which is truly encouraging. Today it’s paint with dramatic climate impact, tomorrow it may be a new battery storage technology, a newly commercialized solar technology like Perovskite, solar embedded in glass, Hydrogen technology, wider reuse of materials, and so much more.

Since countries are finally acknowledging that climate change is real, funding is increasingly available to drive more research which leads to more and more innovation. Let’s hope that our politicians incentivize research and the implementation of breakthroughs.