New solar-reflecting film can cool homes without air con - scientists

Scientists say they have found a way to cool homes and power plants without using electricity or water.

While Australians struggle to keep their air conditioners humming as a heatwave threatens to overwhelm the country’s power grid, US scientists say they have found a way to cool homes without using electricity or water.

A team of engineers has developed a film which - when applied to a surface like a roof - reflects the sun’s rays back into space, while also allowing the surface underneath to shed its own heat.

The film, which is slightly thicker than aluminium foil used in cooking, is relatively easy to mass produce, they said in the journal Science.

The film could be also used to help cool power plants, and improve the efficiency and lifetime of solar panels, they said. In direct sunlight panels can overheat, hampering their ability to convert solar rays into electricity.

“Just by applying this material to the surface of a solar panel, we can cool the panel and recover an additional one to two per cent of solar efficiency,” said Xiaobo Yin, co-director of the research.

“That makes a big difference at scale.”

This story was published with permission from Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, resilience, women’s rights, trafficking and property rights. Visit http://news.trust.org/climate.

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