‘Cooling glass’ could fight climate change by reflecting solar radiation back into space (Image Credit: Space.com)
As the world continues to experience a worsening climate crisis with record-breaking temperatures, scientists have developed a new, highly reflective glass coating that may help cool a rapidly warming Earth.
In theory, the coating — a slurry-like mixture of inexpensive glass and aluminum oxide particles — could reflect high amounts of sunlight off of the surfaces on which it is painted, such as roofs of buildings and roads.
Laboratory tests have shown it to reflect up to 99 percent of solar radiation back into space. If it pans out, the “cooling glass” could be a promising way to lower temperatures across Earth, researchers behind the new glass say.
“This ‘cooling glass’ is more than a new material — it’s a key part of the solution to climate change,” Xinpeng Zhao, a research scientist at the University of Maryland who led the new study, said in a statement. “This could change the way we live and help us take better care of our home and our planet.”
While most surfaces release heat naturally — Earth, too, cools itself by shedding heat into space, especially on clear nights — the newly developed coating accelerates that process by reflecting sunlight within the so-called atmospheric transparency window. That window is a range of the electromagnetic spectrum that can pass through Earth’s atmosphere and escape into space without increasing its temperature, effectively using space as a heat sink.
Cooler weather created by the cooling effect of the glass and/or other climate change-fighting measures could help create would then prompt people to reduce using air conditioners, Zhao told Space.com.
The team’s new ceramic-based paint, which comes in four colors, is novel in that it is durable for at least 30 years, thanks to its ability to withstand temperatures up to 1,832 degrees Fahrenheit (1,000 degrees Celsius) as well as exposure to water and even flames, according to the new study.
“In that sense, I think this is certainly an interesting, potentially effective strategy,” Aaswath Raman, a professor of materials science at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the new study, told Space.com.
Ultimately, the new coating will have to “compete with a range of existing approaches that have also shown potential for long durability.”
The new research is described in a paper published in the journal Science.