EXPLORE THE  LAB

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
0
0
The estimated cost of the technology's development
TRL
9

The current Technology Readiness Level of the technology

Reflective Roofs on Shipping Containers & Trucks

March 14, 2022
20220314
READ

Shipping containers are commonly painted blue, red, green, or other various monochrome colors on all sides. While this might make containers more distinguishable, these choices of paint lead to significant heat absorption, some of which is then conducted to the atmosphere. There is a simple solution to this problem. By painting the roofs of containers and truck trailers white, the object reflects more solar energy toward space and heats up less. This could also reduce the urban heat island effect around ports and other industrial facilities where shipping containers are common. Solar reflective paints have already been developed for other applications and are readily available commercially. 


$0.66/m(^2)
0.66
The estimated cost of the technology's development
TRL
8

The current Technology Readiness Level of the technology

>95% Reflective White Paint

March 14, 2022
20220314
READ

Mechanical engineers at Purdue University have formulated a white paint that reflects 98% of solar energy  and emits 95% of thermal radiation to space under a clear sky. A painted surface at a test location under a clear sky was cooler than the surrounding air all day, and 18°F cooler than the surrounding air at night. 

Not only are there important environmental motivations like curbing global warming, using this paint also delivers energy and financial savings for individual consumers in sunny, warm climates: “If you were to use this paint to cover a roof area of about 1,000 square feet, we estimate that you could get a cooling power of 10 kilowatts, saving about a dollar a day that otherwise would have gone to air conditioning costs. That’s more powerful than the central air conditioners used by most houses,” says Xiulin Ruan, one of the mechanical engineering professors working on the project. 

This reflective paint is innovative due to its use of barium sulfate pigment particles. These pigment particles absorb ultraviolet light less than the commonly used pigment titanium dioxide and strongly emit thermal radiation with  wavelengths that escape Earth’s atmosphere to reach space. Standard commercial white paints reflect only 80-90% of solar energy. Paint that reflects 98% of solar energy is a valuable development with diverse potential applications, one of which being painting roofs to curb global warming via bolstering Earth’s reflectivity. Sources: Ultrawhite BaSO4 Paints and Films for Remarkable Daytime Subambient Radiative Cooling


Unknown
The estimated cost of the technology's development
TRL
2

The current Technology Readiness Level of the technology

Cirrus Cloud Thinning

March 14, 2022
20220314
READ

Cirrus cloud thinning is a proposed strategy to manage Earth’s energy imbalance and stop global warming. Cirrus clouds are composed of ice crystals at high altitudes and appear as wispy streaks. Compared to clouds at lower altitudes, they are less effective at reflecting incoming sunlight and more effective at blocking outgoing longwave radiation emitted by the Earth. Thus, they have a net heating influence on the climate. The heat trapped by cirrus clouds is greater than that trapped in the atmosphere as a product of human CO2 emissions. Researchers at ETH Zurich, a Swiss university, proposed that drones could inject solid aerosol particles into cirrus clouds, causing the clouds to dissipate more quickly thus there being less time for the cloud to trap heat. This strategy is a controversial approach, and would have to be approached with precision and care as if the procedure is conducted incorrectly, the clouds could become thicker and increasingly persistent. Source: A Cirrus Cloud Climate Dial?

N/A
The estimated cost of the technology's development
TRL
2

The current Technology Readiness Level of the technology

Floating, Alkalizing, Reflective Glass Tiles

READ

Researcher Jeff Haley proposes dispersing floating glass foam tiles across the ocean - concentrating around gyres and coral reefs - to reflect solar radiation to space and moderate storm damage. Methods of producing these tiles are varied but use readily accessible materials like sand and can be achieved using power attained by low-carbon methods, like photovoltaic panels. “Following Mie theory, transparent material such as glass can be made highly solar reflective by forming alternating pockets of air and glass where the air pockets and glass pockets each have average diameters of roughly one micron. This is why snow and clouds are white” said Mr. Haley. In addition to reflecting light to space, these tiles are coated in a slow-releasing alkalizer to combat ocean acidification and fertilizers to increase the absorption of atmospheric CO2. These effects are counteracting: an alkalizer would raise pH, however absorbing atmospheric CO2 would lower pH. Further study would be needed to quantify the net impact.

“The objectives are to: 

1. Reduce absorbance of solar energy and reduce water temperatures to reduce tropical cyclone damage and reduce coral damage; 

2. Increase absorbance of CO2 from the atmosphere by maintaining high pH at the water surface over months and by reducing solar heat gain of the water; 

3. Increase absorbance of CO2 from the atmosphere by supplying at the surface nutrients to promote the growth of organisms that fix carbon; 

4. Reduce acidity to reduce suppression of coral growth when deployed up-current from coral reefs; and 

5. Reduce the Earth’s energy imbalance to reduce global warming by reflecting solar energy to space.” (J. Haley)

There are caveats and follow-up questions to be investigated before committing to this tech on a large scale, but floating glass foam is an interesting technology with the potential for widespread improvements relating to atmospheric CO2, ocean acidification, and storm abatement. To learn more check out Haley’s research paper.