“White Privilege”: Painting Your Home With White Could Soon Save A/C Costs

The whitest white paint could emerge as an eco-friendly way of cooling your home.


In another invention fueled by the need to proactively deal with climate change, scientists at U. S. A.’s Purdue University have experienced a noteworthy “Eureka!” moment. Indiana-based researchers have created the whitest paint globally that could soon bring down air-conditioning sales and, in turn, help cut down on carbon emissions.

Wondering how a mere paint color could do that? There’s some fundamental science behind it. You see, white is the color which reflects sunlight the most. By the same rule, the whitest color reflects the highest possible amount of sunlight. This maximum reflection helps keep the temperature of a painted surface down.

In an official statement from Purdue University, the research team unveiled how the “whitest paint yet” absorbs the least amount of sun rays and reflects the sunlight, plus the infrared heat, to give off a cooling effect. To be precise, the newly created paint throws back 98.1% of sunlight – an improvement on their previous achievement of 95.5% with the “ultra-white” paint.

xiulin ruan purdue university whitest white paint
Professor Xiulin Ruan holds a plaque showing the whitest paint. Credit: Purdue University/Jared Pike

As per the statement, the researchers see it as the white counterpart of the blackest black color, a. k. a. Vantablack, which absorbs 99.9% of sun rays.

After around six years of research, the whitest possible paint came from a high barium sulfate concentration containing various particle sizes. This hugely varied particle size results in a more intense light scattering, leading to the highest possible sunlight reflection.

How Is It Different From Any Other White Paint?

The shades of white available right now only reflect about 80-90% sun rays. As a result, they do not make the surface temperature lower than that of the surroundings. On the other hand, the whitest paint can keep a surface’s day temperature and night temperature 8° F and 19° F cooler than its surroundings, respectively.

Interestingly, the cooling effect continues even in winter conditions. The scientists observed that the paint makes the surface temperature 18° F lower than the ambient temperature.

testing whitest white paint purdue university
Professors Xiulin Ruan and Joseph Peoples tested the white paint samples. (Credit: Purdue University Photo/Jared Pike)

Professor Ruan said, “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.” This, he claims, is more powerful cooling than most air conditioners today offer.

As revolutionary as it might sound, the whitest white paint is reportedly suitable for practical use as well. In addition, the university claims it can likely sustain outdoor conditions and can be manufactured readily in the paint industry.

Moreover, Purdue University’s promising creation made it to the Guinness Book of Records last week.

Priye Rai

Priye Rai

Priye is a tech writer who writes about anything remotely related to tech, including gaming, smartphones, social media, etc. He prefers to be called a "video game journalist" and grimaces when he doesn't get to be "Player 1." If you want to share feedback or talk about games, reach out to @priyeakapj on Twitter.
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