One of the effects of climate change is that summers are getting hotter. That is why more and more people are purchasing air conditioners to cool their homes. In 2015, around 16,000 air conditioners were installed in the Netherlands. In 2022 there were already 285,000. And while air conditioning is an efficient way to keep the temperature in a home low, it uses a lot of energy and adds to your energy bill.
Scientists from the City University of Hong Kong were working on a more sustainable alternative. They developed a ceramic roof tile made of an ‘ultra-white’ material. Light colors absorb more (sun)light and therefore stay cooler. At the same time, the nanostructure of the surface of the roof tile contributes to even more reflection. This structure is inspired by the white carapace of the Cyphochilus beetle.
Previous experiments in which sunlight was reflected by an ultra-white surface mainly relied on paint. The disadvantage of paint is that both the reflective properties and the layer itself weather, for example due to the weather.
The researchers from Hong Kong made their roof tile from aluminum. This material is more resistant to weather conditions and does not deteriorate due to UV radiation. In addition, the roof tiles offer protection against fire, as they can withstand temperatures of up to 1,000 degrees Celsius.
“Our experiment showed that applying cooling ceramics to the roof of a house can result in a more than 20 percent reduction in electricity for cooling rooms,” say
Professor Edwin Tso Chi-yan, co-author of the study. The results confirm that cooling ceramics can reduce dependence on traditional cooling systems. It offers a sustainable solution that avoids overloading the grid, reduces emissions and combats heat islands in cities.”
Variety of colors
Finally, the researchers also say that the material can easily be produced on a large scale. And if white is too boring for some homes, the material can even be produced in other colors and patterns by adding additional layers.
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