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"Cool blue" pigment could boost energy efficient building

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June 4, 2012

This 'trigonal bipyramidal' crystalline structure that forms the basis of OSU's 'cool blue...

This 'trigonal bipyramidal' crystalline structure that forms the basis of OSU's 'cool blue' pigment

Researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) have discovered a new type of blue pigment that could help boost the energy efficiency of buildings. Discovered unexpectedly three years ago, the "cool blue" pigment has unusually high infrared heat reflectivity which it is hoped can be channeled into commercial products in the near future.

Using roofing materials that reflect heat well has long been recognized as an important aspect of passive solar design. While lighter pigments are generally better when it comes to reflecting heat in the infrared spectrum, the new "cool blue" punches above its weight despite its deeper tone.

“This pigment has infrared heat reflectivity of about 40 percent, which is significantly higher than most blue pigments now being used,” said Mas Subramanian, an OSU professor of chemistry who discovered the compound.

The chance discovery occurred during unrelated research into the electrical properties of manganese compounds. When heated to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit the compounds changed to a "beautiful blue" - researchers later determined that this was due to what's described as the “trigonal bipyramidal” crystalline structure of some of these compounds. This became the starting point for the development of the pigment, which also has the advantage of being durable and environmentally-benign.

The compound, which has now received patent approval, is also being investigated for various commercial application according to OSU and research into its molecular structure and reflective properties is ongoing.

“We’re seeking licensing partners for this invention right now,” said Mary Phillips, associate director of the Office for Commercialization and Corporate Development at OSU. “We believe it can contribute to new energy efficiency solutions around the world.”

Source: Oregon State University

3 Comments

Before rushing to patent, check here:

http://goafrica.about.com/od/moroccotopattractions/ig/Chefchaouen--Morocco/Blue-Streets-of-Chefchaouen--M.htm

Hopefully this pigment is new and better, but is this traditional blue from Morocco doing the same job?

Dirk Scott
4th June, 2012 @ 03:39 am PDT

I remember taking a holiday in Greece years ago, and noticing that many of the Villas are not air conditioned, they are just painted white on the exterior, with marble floors inside, and are cool even when the sun is blazing.

Meanwhile in America, and probably Australia too, architecture originating from cooler climates dominates, and thus the insulated black-roofed buildings must be pumped full of cold air from air conditioning units during the summer just to be liveable.

PeetEngineer
4th June, 2012 @ 09:33 am PDT

8 years ago I built a garage/shop for a family friend. 40'x25' It was in socal at the edge of county line, so subject to their requirements and other local ones. Well it basically had to be fireproof. So cement siding and steel roof with fireproof doors and windows. Since requirements were so stringent and expensive he/we decided we might as well insulate the building as well. So inch thick foam insulation under steel roofing, the roofing shape provided channels from bottom to top which helps with cooling as well. heaviest insulation we could fit into the walls. Anyway it is the single strongest best insulated building I have ever built and does not require any cooling/heating. He spends most days in there when home rather then the house as temp is nicer. So I hope this type of thing catches on, we waste so much energy nowadays in Southern California due to poor building design and constrictions of building code. I built a basement in our house and it doen't need cooling either.

telocity
5th June, 2012 @ 12:09 pm PDT
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