February 10, 2017

This film might just save the planet

And no, we’re not talking about a movie.

And no, we’re not talking about Leonardo DiCaprio’s Before the Flood. In fact, we’re not talking about movies at all.

We’re talking about the other definition of film (a thin flexible strip of material), and more specifically, a film that could spell the end of AC units.

Wait, what?

2 scientists at the University of Colorado, Ronggui Uang and Xiaobo Yin, have invented a film that can cool buildings without the use of refrigerants or electricity.

Even better, it can be made using “standard roll-to-roll manufacturing methods” at a cost of just 50 cents per square meter.

How does it work?

It’s all thanks to a process called radiative cooling. We’ll let The Economist explain it:

The Earth’s atmosphere allows certain wavelengths of heat-carrying infrared radiation to escape into space unimpeded. Convert unwanted heat into infrared of the correct wavelength, then, and you can dump it into the cosmos with no comeback.

Now, to be clear…

This isn’t the first time we’ve tried to cool buildings this way. However, it is the first time a solution’s been presented that’s cost-efficient enough to be manufactured in bulk.

And let’s hope it succeeds, folks, because consider this:

Nearly 6% of the electricity generated in the US is used to power air conditioning systems, with some other countries not far behind. That’s a) expensive for consumers and b) contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

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