A research team from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) has developed innovative materials that can moderate building temperatures.

Designed by Scientia Professor Mat Santamouris (Anita Lawrence Chair High in Performance Architecture at the School of Built Environment, UNSW Arts, Design & Architecture), the new materials adjust the optical properties in conventional coatings for buildings. The design can change the amount of heat the building emits and reflects, based on surrounding temperatures.

Prof. Santamouris says the material is modulated according to the weather temperatures.

“It is ideal for cities that have issues with overheating in summer, but also have heating requirements during winter,” he says.

Extreme urban heat is the most documented climate change phenomenon, affecting more than 450 cities worldwide.

Prof. Santamouris specialises in developing technologies that can mitigate heat. His team tested the new materials recently during an international collaboration with the University of Calcutta India, Public University of Navarra Spain, and the University of Tsukuba Japan.

The team modified existing supercooling materials by adding extra layers to increase solar reflectance and emissivity.

Prof. Santamouris says the first layer changes the reflectivity and emissivity as a function of the ambient temperature. The second layer decreases the reflectivity of the materials and increases heat losses through fluorescence.

The result is that the building material can emit more fluorescent radiation than it absorbs, allowing it to retain a surface temperature below the ambient temperature during summer and stay above the average temperature during winter.

“We were able to decrease the peak summer ambient temperature up to 5°C and increase the peak winter temperature by 1.5°C,” says Prof. Santamouris.

The team will continue to test the materials in new locations around the world, as part of an ongoing ARC Discovery Project. Prof. Santamouris says he hopes the advances can be used internationally to help combat climate change and reduce energy costs.

To read the study, click here.


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