研究表明,如何讓你的房子保持涼爽——用比白色更白的新油漆覆蓋它

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Painting buildings white is a centuries-old method of staving off heat in countries like Greece SophiaPapageorge/Pixabay, CC BY

從冰冷的苔原到翻滾的雲層,白色在我們星球的調色板中反復出現。 這種顏色為來自太陽的光從地球表面反射回太空提供了一種自然的方式。 這種效應——被稱為行星的 反照率 – 對全球平均溫度有巨大影響。

Imagine a world covered entirely with oceans. Although the idea might evoke a refreshing sense of coolness, the absence of reflective white areas would in fact see Earth’s average surface temperature increase to nearly 30°C: double its current average temperature of 15°C.

The ongoing decline in our planet’s ice and snow coverage, as well as being a consequence of human-driven climate change, is also driving further increases in surface temperature. Worst-case scenario models predict that – if CO₂ emissions are not dramatically reduced by 2050 – average temperatures in the year 2100 may be 1.5°C warmer than those of the present day, thanks in part to Earth’s reduced reflectivity. The colour of our world plays a key part in determining its future.

The famous white buildings of islands like Santorini, Greece, aren’t just for show: humans have used the knowledge that white colours reflect heat best for hundreds of years. Traditionally, a type of white paint called 石膏, containing calcium sulphate (CaSO₄), is used to cover such buildings. A new 研究 suggests that an alternative paint containing barium sulphate (BaSO₄) could be even more effective at reflecting the solar radiation hitting buildings back into space. A church building painted white Walls and roofs are often painted with gypsum in Greece. Judithscharnowski/Pixabay, CC BY

The key to the effectiveness of this new barium sulphate-based paint are the nanoparticles it contain that reflect the sun’s energy at a relatively high efficiency and at specific infrared wavelengths of 0.008mm–0.013mm. These wavelengths match part of the atmosphere that is highly transparent, known as the “sky window“。

That means more of the reflected solar energy can bounce right back through this “window” into space instead of remaining trapped in Earth’s atmosphere and contributing to global warming. According to the study’s authors, when solar radiation is shone at barium sulphate paint, nearly 10% of the radiation is reflected at these wavelengths.

Applying this type of paint to buildings in warm climate regions will help to keep buildings cooler – a huge challenge particularly in urban regions, where the density of people and buildings can push temperatures to unbearable heights during the summer months.

The study demonstrates how painting buildings with barium sulphate paint can reduce temperatures inside the buildings by 4.5ºC compared to the outside air temperature. This technology has the potential to significantly lower the cost of cooling buildings by reducing reliance on air conditioning.


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A white roof with skylights under the sky In the US, Walmart’s white roofs help reduce energy use within the superstores. 沃爾瑪/ Flickr的, CC BY-SA

However, this whiter-than-white paint has a darker side. The energy required to dig up raw barite ore to produce and process the barium sulphite that makes up nearly 60% of the paint means it has a huge 碳足跡. And using the paint widely would mean a dramatic increase in the mining of barium.

Nature’s cooling tricks

Barium sulphite-based paint is just one way to improve the reflectivity of buildings. I’ve spent the last few years researching the colour white in the natural world, from white surfaces to white animals. Animal hairs, feathers and butterfly wings provide different examples of how nature regulates temperature within a structure. Mimicking these natural techniques could help to keep our cities cooler with less cost to the environment.

The wings of one intensely white beetle species called Lepidiota stigma appear a strikingly bright white thanks to 納米結構 in their scales, which are very good at scattering incoming light. This natural light-scattering property can be used to design even better paints: for example, by using 再生塑料 to create white paint containing similar nanostructures with a far lower carbon footprint. When it comes to taking inspiration from nature, the sky’s the limit.

關於作者

Andrew Parnell,謝菲爾德大學物理和天文學研究員
 

這篇文章最初出現在 談話

 

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