Stanford Develops Insulating Paints

Olivia Petrus
Melting ice cream truck art work
Courtesy of Glue Society

Scientists from the University of Stanford are planning to paint the town red (or any color you fancy), with their latest innovation in the energy-saving space: insulating paints.

What’s happening: Newly developed paints, available in a wide range of colors, offer enhanced insulation that significantly reduces energy consumption, costs, and associated carbon emissions.

  • These innovative paints can reduce the need for heating and air conditioning in buildings and other spaces, including refrigerated cargo in trucks (that includes ice cream trucks) and trains.

Why the buzz? According to the International Energy Agency, air conditioners and electric fans account for nearly a fifth of global electricity used in buildings.

  • Space heating and cooling accounts for approximately 13 percent of global energy use and 11 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

When used in test environments, the new paints reduced heating energy usage by more than a third and cooling energy usage by ~21 percent.

Painting the picture: The paints consist of two separate layers: an infrared-reflective base layer with aluminum flakes and an ultrathin, infrared-transparent top layer containing inorganic nanoparticles.

  • These paints efficiently reflect infrared light, which is responsible for much of the natural heating of the Earth when absorbed by surfaces.

To keep buildings cooler, the paint can be applied to exterior surfaces. And for retaining heat, it can be used on interior walls.

Keep your cool and budgets in check: Beyond buildings, these paints can be applied to improve energy efficiency in other uses. These include refrigerated transportation, so trucks can transport goods without breaking a sweat.

And the paints are water-repellent to ensure stability in humid conditions and can be easily cleaned.

What’s next? The researchers are working to refine the paint for practical applications, with a focus on environmentally-friendly, water-based solutions for commercialization.

Sounds like we need to commission Banksy for a wall painting… for sustainability purposes…