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Keeping Buildings Cool by Radiating Heat to Space

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 06:47AM

With as much as 15% of energy in the United States going toward air conditioning, technologies that can keep things cool efficiently are always of interest. Researchers at Stanford University have devised a novel approach that reflects and radiates heat into space with a passive and advanced mirror.

The mirror is a multilayered material just 1.8 microns thick, making it thinner than aluminum foil. It contains seven layers of silicon dioxide and hafnium oxide atop a layer of silver that have had their thicknesses tuned to best radiate infrared light into space, while also reflecting Sunlight. Radiating infrared light is one of the ways a warm body can give off heat, and at the frequency this light will be at, it will not warm the air it passes through. When the researchers tested their photonic radiative cooling mirror, as they are calling it, the mirror was almost 9 ºF cooler than the air surrounding it as it prevented some 97% of Sunlight from actually reaching the building.

Before we can see these mirrors deployed to reduce cooling costs, two issues must be addressed. Naturally, one is how to mass produce the mirrors, but the other is the daunting task of finding ways to effectively shuttle heat from inside a building to the radiator, so it can be sent to space.

Source: Stanford University

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