It might sound like something from a sci-fi movie, but the vast cold of space might one day help keep the buildings of planet Earth cool. Stanford engineers have found a way to transmit heat away from buildings directly into space using a thin material that can be placed on the top of a building’s roof.
The invention, according to the Stanford News, is called photonic radiative cooling. On the roof of a building the material, made of materials including silver and silicon, can dissipate both invisible, infrared heat that a building collects internally and heat caused by the sun’s rays.
The material is able to transmit infrared heat into a frequency that sends it directly through the atmosphere into the cold vastness of outer space, completely bypassing Earth’s atmosphere. It also deflects 97% of visible sunlight with its reflective properties. By removing both infrared heat from the building and the sunlight that hits the building, the photonic radiative cooling could help reduce the cooling load placed on a building’s HVAC system.
Of course, a few complications face the Stanford team before photonic radiative cooling becomes mainstream. The panels will need to be sized up for production; their current model is the size of a personal pizza. Also, the team will need to figure out how to transfer the infrared heat that collects in a building to the rooftop to literally blast it off into the heat sink of space.
Photonic radiative cooling is a prototype and certainly won’t be hitting a rooftop near you anytime soon, but the material is just another example of emerging heating and cooling technologies aimed at reducing energy use.
Until this new air-cooling technology hits metro-Houston, we’re here at Richmonds Air to help you find solutions to your comfort concerns, from replacing your air conditioner, to repairs, to finding ways to cut energy use ways to cut energy use.