A desert ant as inspiration for a paint-like material that could keep buildings cool

Researchers at Columbia University are working on a new way to keep buildings cool. They have developed a coating that does not heat up under the sun.

Graphic: An ant.
The researchers drew inspiration from a heat-tolerant species of ant. Image source: OpenClipart-Vectors -

As Yale Climate Connections reports, the the inspiration for this material derives from a heat-tolerant species of ant called the Saharan Silver Ant.

In 2015, Columbia University physics professor Nanfang Yu had discovered that this ant’s silvery coating of hair reflects sunlight and radiates heat back to the sky. Now, he and his colleagues have developed a paint-like material that mimics these functions. Thus the coating does not heat up under the sun.

Reflecting up to ninety-nine percent of sunligh

When applied to a rooftop, it reflects up to ninety-nine percent of sunlight, emits heat back to the atmosphere, and helps to cool the building underneath. And it does so far more effectively than white paint, which only reflects certain wavelengths of solar radiation.

Image source: Pixabay.

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