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Scientists Just Created the Whitest Paint in the World. It Could Curb Global Warming

You’ve heard about Blackest Black, aka Vantablack, the world’s darkest paint that absorbs 99.965 percent of light. Now, there’s a yet-to-be-named paint that broke the Guinness World Record for the world’s whitest paint. 

Scientists at Purdue University have created the world’s whitest paint, and it could end the need for air-conditioning. 

According to Purdue University, the paint is so white, it reflects 98.1 percent of solar radiation while outputting infrared heat.

“When we started this project about seven years ago, we had saving energy and fighting climate change in mind,” said Xiulin Ruan, a professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue, in a statement.

Professor Xiulin Ruan and his students have created the whitest paint on record. 

Photo by John Underwood | Purdue University.

Ruan and his team wanted a paint that would reflect heat instead of absorbing it. The paint absorbs less heat from the sun than it emits, which means a surface coated with this paint will be cooler than the surrounding temperature—a feat no other white paint has achieved.

Typical commercial white paint gets warmer rather than cooler because they are only designed to reject heat and reflect only 80 percent to 90 percent of sunlight—hence, they can’t make surfaces cooler than their surroundings.

If the paint were used on a roof area of 1,000 square feet, the cooling effect would be equivalent to the energy output of 10 kilowatts, Purdue researchers showed in a published paper.

“That’s more powerful than the air conditioners used by most houses,” Ruan said.

The ultra-white paint has a very high concentration of a chemical compound called barium sulfate, which is used in photo paper and cosmetics. Different-sized pigments of barium sulfate were integrated into the paint to scatter different-sized wavelengths of sunlight. 

“A wider range of particle sizes allows the paint to scatter more of the light spectrum from the sun,” the researchers said.


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