As we all know, air conditioning is not an ecologically sound solution for keeping buildings at a comfortable temperature. What if your home or office could stay cool all on its own - no electricity required?
That’s the big idea behind Yi Zheng’s new invention. The associate professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at Northeastern University in Boston has created a sustainable material that can be used to keep buildings cool without the need for conventional cooling systems.
Zheng hopes his "cooling paper” will soon be covering the roofs of houses, warehouses, and office buildings. It's clever stuff as not only does the light-coloured material reflect hot solar rays away from the building, it also sucks heat out of the interior, too - heat that is emitted from electronics, cooking, and human bodies.
Cooling paper is actually made of paper, and the porous microstructure of the natural fibers absorbs the indoor warmth and re-emits it away from the building. Zheng and his colleagues found that the cooling paper can reduce a room’s temperature by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit (6C).
The cooling paper isn’t just eco-friendly in its ability to reduce your energy footprint. It’s also recyclable. The material can be used, exposed to solar radiation, weather, and varying temperatures, then reduced to a pulp (again) and reformed without losing any of its cooling properties.
Zheng isn't just aiming to reduce your utility bills, he also believes that his work will help combat climate change.
The process for creating and testing the new material was described in a paper published last month in the American Chemical Society Journal.