New translucent cooling material could revolutionize the AC industry

plastic film may replace air conditioners 40546782 ml
To help buck the trend of traditional energy-sucking mechanical air conditioners, a group of researchers at the University of Colorado developed a metamaterial film designed to efficiently radiate heat at any time of day. A translucent type of film, the material would reportedly feature the ability to cool a home at the expense of literally zero energy. Considering how large energy bills tend to be during the summer months in places like Arizona, southern California, or Florida, the researcher’s breakthrough seems poised to supplant old-fashioned AC units — should the innovation actually pan out.

Conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado’s departments of mechanical engineering, materials science and engineering, and aerospace engineering sciences — as well as a group from the University of Wyoming — the study recently published in the peer-reviewed journal, Science. The abstract of the study posits that “passive radiative cooling draws heat from surfaces and radiates it into space as infrared radiation to which the atmosphere is transparent.” The issue was that the team needed to find a material suitable for handling the solar irradiance and low infrared radiation flux’s energy density mismatch.

plastic film may replace air conditioners uofcolorado1
University of Colorado
University of Colorado

“We embedded resonant polar dielectric microspheres randomly in a polymeric matrix, resulting in a metamaterial that is fully transparent to the solar spectrum while having an infrared emissivity greater than 0.93 across the atmospheric window,” the research read. “When backed with silver coating, the metamaterial shows a noon-time radiative cooling power of 93 W/m2 under direct sunshine. More critically, we demonstrated high-throughput, economical roll-to-roll manufacturing of the metamaterial, vital for promoting radiative cooling as a viable energy technology.”

In other words, the translucent material developed by the team features tiny silicon dioxide spheres which help it release any infrared radiation, while at the same time denying the absorption of any solar radiation. To do this, the film effectively lets any solar radiation move right through it, allowing the team to put a reflective material on one side of the material to relay that radiation away. If installed in a home, that reflective material would push heat away while absorbing cooler air. No energy needed.

It’s worth pointing out the research, while published, concerns a relatively uncharted industry. Those developing similar radiative cooling solutions in the past found a workable system rather expensive and difficult to scale. The current team did mention scalability for their development but until further tests commence, it’s hard to make a proper assumption at this time.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

We’re going to the Red Planet! All the past, present, and future missions to Mars

SpaceX isn't the only organization pining to visit the Red Planet. Here's a detailed list of all operational and planned missions to Mars, along with explanations of their objectives, spacecraft details, and mission proposals.

How to start your online business in 6 simple steps

Making the right choices now can greatly impact your success down the line, and the last thing you want to do is spend your energy revisiting old decisions instead of growing your company.

Conquer the cold season with the best heated clothing and outdoor apparel

If you're thinking about going outside this winter, heated apparel is a must. Luckily, we've rounded up some of the best heated clothing, whether you're looking for battery-powered gloves or heated insoles.
Smart Home

The best air fryers deliver fried food with a fraction of the calories

What is this magical mechanism? It's an air fryer, and when used correctly, it can mimic the effects of frying while using just a little bit of oil. You still get that crispy, golden exterior and the fluffy center.
Smart Home

These wireless security cameras are a wire-free way to protect your home

Home security cameras can give you piece of mind, but if they have wires, are limited in where you can put them. We've rounded up the best battery-operated home security cameras to give you flexibility along with your security.
Product Review

Hue who? Nanoleaf Canvas brings a riot of color and vibrancy to the smart home

Fun and festive, Nanoleaf Canvas feature lighting adds personality and vibrancy to any room. Nanoleaf Canvas features squares that you can connect in any configuration you’d like. Sync to music, play games, or relax in soothing light.
Smart Home

This A.I.-enabled tech brings cutting-edge automation to grocery stores

Takeoff Technologies is working to make grocery deliveries fast, accurate, and convenient using A.I.-enabled technology to augment robotic grocery orders that can be completed in minutes.
Smart Home

With a simple command, Alexa can arm all your security devices

Alexa customers can query status plus arm or disarm home security systems several companies. New Alexa Guard skills set your home to away mode, send alerts when alarms or sensors go off, and contact home security monitoring services.
Smart Home

Voice assistant-enabled Deebot N79S robot vacuum now deeply discounted

The Ecovacs Deebot N79 is more powerful and quieter than its predecessor and adds Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility. Ready to make cleaning easier than ever, this voice-enabled bot will vacuum your home on spoken command.
Smart Home

Facebook Portal and Portal+ video-calling devices gain new content and features

Facebook's Portal devices are video smart speakers with Alexa voice assistants built in that allow you to make calls. The 15-inch Portal+ model features a pivoting camera that follows you around the room as you speak.
Smart Home

Dog or cat shedding? These vacuums do a great job of sucking up pet hair

Got a pet hair problem? Fortunately, there's help for you and your furry friend. We tested out a bunch of vacuums that promise to remove pet hair. Here are a few of the best you can buy.
Smart Home

Rocco wants to rock out. Parrot learns to use owner’s Amazon Alexa

Rocco, an African gray parrot, fell in love with his owner's Alexa unit and ordered himself treats and other goodies, but mostly uses the smart assistant to rock out to his favorite music.
Smart Home

Find good gift ideas with these small kitchen appliance deals on Amazon

Small kitchen appliances are favorite holiday gifts to give and to receive and that doesn't only mean an Instant Pot. We found excellent deals on Amazon for blenders and espresso makers plus a highly rated sous vide machine.