Paint Chillin’

Paint Made From Glass Could Help Cool Rooftops and Cars

Glass paint does not just help keep heat off metal roofs and structures. It can also keep them durable. Researchers said the coating may survive hundreds of years without cracking or fading. Harsh sunlight is not friendly to metal surfaces. It can speed up corrosion and deterioration, as well as make it difficult to keep interiors cool.

Researchers from Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University have made a new type of environment-friendly paint that can reflect the sun’s harsh rays. The glass paint reflects sunlight from metal roofs, which can keep roofs and other coated structures cooler, while increasing durability.

Paints that are made from polymers (today’s widespread manufacturing method) are commonly used on cars and homes but sunlight is not favorable to these traditional formulations. The ultraviolet rays degrade the polymers so paints fade overtime. Many paints release volatile organic compounds that can be harmful to the environment.

Jason Benkoski, from Johns Hopkins APL, explained that these are the reasons why an effort was made to veer away from polymer-based coatings and switch to inorganic glass ones. Benkoski and colleagues developed a paint from a mixture of silica, one of the main components of glass, and potassium silicate, which dissolves in water. The mixture starts as a liquid so it is possible to spray or brush it onto a surface. When the compound dries after a few hours, it becomes almost as hard as rock and becomes water resistant.

Benkoski’s paint is mainly inorganic so it should last longer than other paints that have organic compounds. The paint also expands and contracts with metal surfaces, which could prevent cracking. The researchers claim that while most outdoor paints can only last a few years in the sun, the new glass paint has the potential of surviving for hundreds of years without cracking or fading.

Combining silicate with the pigments also allows the paint to reflect sunlight and radiant heat. Because the coating does not absorb sunlight, coated surfaces may be kept at air temperature or even cooler helping protect structures from excessive heat and the damaging effects of sunlight.

“If you make a paint that can keep an outdoor surface close to air temperature, then you can slow down corrosion and other types of degradation,” Benkoski said. The paint is aimed for naval ships but it can also be used on anyone’s roof to keep the heat out and even lower the bill for air conditioning. The researchers said that the glass paint should be affordable since the materials that are used are inexpensive and abundant.


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