New 'cool blue' compound to keep buildings cool sans air-conditioning

   Jun 3, 10:56 am

Washington, June 2 (ANI): A new study by scientists including one of Indian-origin, has revealed a durable and environmentally benign blue pigment, which also possesses the unusual characteristics of reflecting heat, which can be potentially helpful for saving energy in buildings.

The "cool blue" coloured pigment, which has now received patent approval, was discovered about three years ago almost by chance, as Oregon State University scientists were studying some materials for their electrical properties.

This might be potentially useful to help reduce heat absorption on the roofs and walls of buildings, which is an evolving field of considerable interest in warm regions where cooling is a major expense.

"This pigment has infrared heat reflectivity of about 40 percent, which is significantly higher than most blue pigments now being used," said Mas Subramanian, an OSU professor of chemistry who discovered the compound.

"The more we discover about the pigment, the more interesting it gets," Subramanian said. "We already knew it had advantages of being more durable, safe and fairly easy to produce. Now it also appears to be a new candidate for energy efficiency.

" Cool roofing," in which paints are used to reflect significant portions of the sun's heat and thereby reduce cooling costs, is an important new trend in "green" construction and energy efficiency, experts say. Such reflective coatings also are more aesthetically pleasing, have less thermal degradation, reduce the "heat island" effect in cities, lower peak energy demand, and reduce air pollution due to lower energy use and power plant emissions," he said.

"We're seeking licensing partners for this invention right now," said Mary Phillips, associate director of the Office for Commercialization and Corporate Development at OSU.

"We believe it can contribute to new energy efficiency solutions around the world," she said.

Generally, any darker colour of the type often used for roofs, houses, automobiles or other applications will tend to absorb more heat.

But some compounds, like the one discovered at OSU, have dark tones, yet possess the ability to reflect heat in the infrared spectrum, which is responsible for most of the heat energy absorbed from sunlight.

The researchers claimed that this is probably the best blue pigment humans have produced since ancient times - going back to efforts by the Egyptians, the Han dynasty in China and Mayan cultures.

The pigment was accidentally discovered when some manganese compounds came out of a 2,000 degree Fahrenheit oven transformed into a beautiful blue, which researchers later determined was due to an unusual "trigonal bipyramidal coordination" of their molecules that changed when exposed to extreme heat. (ANI)

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