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November 12, 2018

Heat-rejecting film could reduce air conditioning costs

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Climate change can be a vicious cycle when folks crank up the air conditioning during heat waves and add even more CO2 to the atmosphere. Scientists from MIT and the University of Hong Kong have developed a new type of window coating that could curb that trend. It remains highly transparent up to 89 degrees F (32 degrees Celsius), but beyond that, it becomes translucent like frosted glass. As a result, it reflects back up to 70 percent of the sun’s incoming heat, reducing interior temperatures and the load on your air conditioner.

To maximize heat blocking, the researchers inserted tiny water-filled spheres into a standard poly material. At temperatures starting around 85 degree F, the spheres start to shrink, squeezing out the liquid and forcing the poly fibers closer together. That gives the glass a frosted appearance, blocking 70 percent of the incoming heat while still letting a lot of visible light through.

Such films have been tried before but didn’t block heat that well. The MIT and Hong Kong teams realized that the water filled spheres needed to match the wavelength of infrared light responsible for most solar heating. After expanding the bubble size to 500 nanometers, the film became a much more effective heat-blocker.

Keep reading on engadget.com

 


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