Behind the tall glass and steel towers, there are often mountains of air conditioners hidden from view. These solutions are today the most effective way to reduce the temperature of a room and they are massively used in the West, especially in North America, to the point that air conditioning has not become an unofficial standard. .
But air conditioning has a clear impact on the planet and is responsible for a significant part of our global warming. First, and most noticeably, today’s air conditioning systems work by drawing hot air from a room and then expelling it outside. Although very effective, this process has the unfortunate tendency to fill cities with hot (and dirty) air.
Polluting air conditioners that need to be replaced
But air conditioning systems have another flaw, they are very energy-intensive. Several studies estimate that one in three megawatts in a building is used for air conditioning. In order to avoid reducing this energy consumption, researchers at Indiana University, in collaboration with South Korean colleagues, have developed a small film that sticks to the windows.
The latter has, according to the inventors, the super power of blocking the thermal energy of the Sun’s rays. The great strength of this film is that being completely transparent, it does not hinder the passage of light. According to the researchers behind its design, it keeps rooms cool in the middle of summer, without plunging them into darkness.
A revolutionary piece of transparent plastic
In the article related to this discovery, published in the journal ACS, the researchers explain that they succeeded in piling up layers of very fine particles to block heat without hindering the passage of light.
Technically, the film developed by the researchers contains titanium dioxide, silicon nitride, but also silicon dioxide and aluminum oxide, all on a polymer-coated glass base. The scientists explain that they used many computer models, but also artificial intelligence and quantum computing to find the right arrangement of the elements.
In the end of their article, the scientists assess the potential of their technology. They estimate that this first version of the “TRC” (for transparent radiative paste) would be able to push a building’s electricity bill by a third. The process should be further optimized in the coming years and the researchers hope to achieve 50% energy savings.
A new version for cars and trains?
A miniature version of this system could also be developed for car windshields or train windows. Today many scientists are trying to find the best way to lower the temperature without using air conditioning.
The prestigious Purdue University in Indiana is working on an ultra-white paint capable of reflecting a very large part of the sunlight. With such a reflection rate (95%), the magic paint would be able to lower the temperature in a building by 3 to 4 degrees in the middle of summer.