Gallery: Scientists Create New Super-Insulating Smart Roof From Cooking...


Scientists just announced that they’ve found a great new use for used cooking oil — and it doesn’t have anything to do with a VW bus. They’ve figured out how to turn the waste from your favorite greasy foods into a “bio-coating” for roofs that regulates temperature in hot and cold weather. Previously, temperature control roofs only worked to cool buildings — paint your roof white and it doesn’t absorb heat. The unique chemical properties of the new coating allow it to reflect light in the summer and then change roles in the winter to retain heat.

The lead scientist on the project, Ben Wen, Ph.D., is the vice-president of United Environment & Energy LLC in Horsehead, New York. The team manipulated used cooking oil into a non-toxic, unscented and non-flammable coating that can be created in any color from clear to black.

In addition, the substance can be manipulated so that it is in tune with different climates. The scientists are able to control the polymer so that it changes from reflection to insulation mode at different temperatures. Wen believes the coating could be ready for commercial use in 3 years. So don’t grab a deep fryer and coat your shingles just yet — you should be able to get the real thing soon.

+ United Environment & Energy

Via TG Daily


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  1. leoVleugels July 20, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    This is called a thermochromic effect and the color change is caused by a small physical or chemical change in one of the coating ingredients. There is in fact a wide range of possible color changes. Btw more common is the photochromic effect used in self-coloring glasses. The fact that the roofing itself doesn’t change color probably means that the coating is transparant and changes its reflectiveness with temperature. Interesting how to make this from cooking oil which is basicly triglycerides. The inventor’s website doesn’t mention the product indeed and a quick look in US patents doesn’t give a filed patent.

    I can only partly agree with vandeerley. Indeed in a warm climate, with hardly any low temperatures, white is the best way to go, but most of us live in intermediate climate zones and there it really pays off to catch some sunlight in the winters to help reduce the heating bill.

    If anyone cares to experiment with this effect (just for fun) try this website for a range of color changing paints:

    For AceGreenNews there are also electrochromic materials that change color when an electrical field is applied. This can be used in windows. Just push the button and the window goes from transparent to dark. All these tricks are being developed into products and in the next five to ten years these will become as natural as apples from an apple tree.

  2. vandeerley April 12, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Not so great, I am afraid.

    The way to reflect the maximum sunlight is to paint the roofs white. The whiter the better. Anything else will suboptimize reflection. There is no way around this, it is basic physics.

    The white color is the “proof” that all the light and heat is being reflected.

    The photo associated with the news shows a dark roof coated in a transparent polymer. If the polymer is glossy, it will reflect a little more than a dull dark roof, but that is it.

    Also, the website of the company itself does not even mention this product…

    The self-cleaned paint I used from Sherwin Williams is great. There is no need to wash or re-apply. I painted the roofs for a year now and it still look brand new.

    I also personally 100 tons of carbon or equivalent to removing 100 cars of the street for painting my roof white!

    Lets paint roofs NOW while we have a chance to revert the effects of man made global warming before its too late

  3. AceGreenNews March 23, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    As an organisation that is fully involved in providing contracts for all types of property and maintenance services l am intrigued by this product and the fact that something that we should not use too much of in our diet is able to be used for this purpose. I can see many applications for this to protect our roofs as some of the tiles being used now have a shelf life as short as 15 years, as unbelievable as this may sound.

    But with the fact this polymer can be used in various colours then it can reflect the suns rays or alternatively absorb the sunlight to give heat. May l finally thank Brit for a great article and l hope l can look to add my help and guidance with news in the near future.

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