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Cool Roof Focus: Less Cost, More Colors

Monday, November 19, 2012

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New Zealand’s leading research institute and paint company are teaming up to develop a nanotechnology coating that they says will improve on current “cool roof” technologies.

GNS Science and Resene Paints say the paint contains nanoparticles that will be more effective than existing coating products at reflecting summer heat and keeping buildings cooler in summer.

The joint project will develop a new low-cost way of producing a powder containing metal oxide nanoparticles that can be readily incorporated with existing paint manufacturing methods.

Other Applications, Funding

Once the technology is perfected for roof coatings, it is likely to be available for other applications such as marine and automotive coating products, said project leader John Kennedy of GNS Science.

White cool roof coatings - DOE
U.S. Department of Energy

The researchers are developing nanotechnology-based cool roof coatings that they say are cheaper and available in more colors than the ubiquitous white.

The project has received Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment funding of $450,000 a year for two years to help establish New Zealand as a leader in “cool coating technology,” Crown-sponsored GNS said in a release. Resene will be contributing $100,000 in “in-kind” support.

New Zealand’s Industrial Research Limited and the University of Canterbury are also participating in the project.

(Infra)red Hot Growth

Infrared reflective coatings are currently available, but they are expensive, only partly effective, and come in only a small color range, the researchers said.

Meanwhile, the global market for colored coatings with infrared reflective pigments is now valued at $250 million a year and growing at about 12 percent annually, Kennedy said.

“Improvements in reflectance will translate into much greater value for consumers due to reduced energy bills, lower maintenance and replacement costs, plus a larger color range,” he said.

Scaling Up

GNS Science has designed and built a prototype chamber that produces the reflective powder containing metallic oxide nanoparticles. Thus far, the quantities produced have been small, but enough to allow continued development.

Once the process is perfected it will be easy to scale up production to supply commercial quantities, Kennedy said.

Colored roof tiles
American Rooftile Coatings and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Cool-colored tiles (top row) look just like conventional tiles but have higher solar reflectance. The $250 million global market for colored coatings with infrared reflective pigments is growing by 12 percent annually.

“Producing the powder is the easy part,” he said. “The main focus of our research at present is perfecting a chemical process that will modify the powder so it mixes evenly in the paint and will result in a coating that reflects evenly across an entire surface.”

When the powder is produced in a specially patented process at GNS Science, the nanoparticles occur in crystalline form, with the atoms arranged in a firmly bound lattice structure. Kennedy’s team is developing a chemical process that will separate the particles so they disperse evenly through the paint.

Only a small amount of the metallic oxide powder—about 1 percent by volume—was needed to significantly enhance the paint’s infrared reflectivity, he said.

Looking Ahead

“We believe we will be able to selectively tune the reflective properties of paint by controlling the size and physical characteristics of the nano-particles,” Kennedy said. “Once developed and commercialized, these enhanced coatings will enable New Zealand paint manufacturers to increase their exports of high-technology products.”

The groups hope the new production process can be complete by late 2014, with commercial production starting by 2015.

“Users of these products will be able to save money in reduced maintenance costs and enjoy more comfortable living and working environments,” said Kennedy.


Tagged categories: Coatings technology; Cool roof coatings; Green coatings; Research

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