Father, Son Team Develops ‘World’s Coolest Paint’
Inspired by the “chaos of COVID-19,” a father and son duo from the United Kingdom have reportedly developed what they say is the world’s coolest paint in their home garage. Afterwards, they launched a validation process with the University of Leeds.
According to the press release, the testing of more than 800 samples over a two-year period showed “exceptionally” high emissivity, reading 0.998 on a scale of 0-1. The paint formula can reportedly reduce surface temperature by up to 64 degrees Celsius (114.4 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to a black surface.
The results are set to be published by the University’s Materials Science and Engineering Department.
About the Paint
The family reports that they have now recruited a United States venture accelerator firm, Apater Labs, to help package their paint formulas under its newly launched enterprise Pirta Ltd., which is headquartered in Harrogate, United Kingdom.
The company notes that it plans to target billion-dollar market segments including construction, shipping, logistics, agriculture and energy industries.
In testing, lab figures reportedly showed a peak reflectance of 99.82% across visible and ultraviolet light spectrums. The overall performance was calculated using both reflectivity and emissivity scores, returning a Figure of Merit of 0.934.
Additionally, the paint formula’s Solar Reflective Index was valued at 116.8. While most materials have an SRI between 1 and 100, higher values indicate greater reflectance and emissivity and an improved ability to passively cool a structure.
“The lockdown enforced during the global pandemic was a bizarre and bewildering experience,” said Howard Atkin, serial product designer and Pirta Sustainability Director.
“Necessity is often the mother of invention, and with this backdrop we felt compelled to develop a solution specifically geared towards protecting our planet and creating a better future for our children and grandchildren.”
Initially, the pair worked with the university in 2017 on a fiber optic power transmission project with Professor Gin Jose, a resident expert in Functional Materials. Then, they reconnected to pitch the paint cooling idea before securing grant funding and testing was performed by Experimental Officer Dr. Eric Kumi Barimah between March 2021 and September 2022.
“One of our key areas of expertise is insulation, so we started looking at coating systems which could passively cool surfaces. There are plenty of solar reflective paints on the market which reflect light, but few are effective at repelling heat. Despite this, we see lots of examples of passive cooling in nature, so we knew it was possible,” said Howard Atkin.
“The example that we liked was the silkworm. It chooses a leaf from which it will hang by a silk thread, and it then weaves its cocoon. If it happens to be in a place where there’s a lot of sunshine, the structure of the cocoon keeps it cool. We’ve since looked to incorporate elements of biomimicry in our coating systems in order to enhance their passive cooling qualities.”
“To get the project off the ground we sent the University all kinds of materials from Teflon tape to white cooking glass, and even cat litter which is made of calcium carbonate and widely used in solar reflective paint. Using highly sophisticated equipment they were able to characterize these different materials which allowed us to start formulating our system,” said Robert Atkin, Pirta R&D Director.
“Each one of our tests spawned another approach, and it grew like ripples on water. We’re now embarking on ‘ladder tests’, which are standard in the paint manufacturing industry, applying different doses of raw materials to assess performance. We are also focusing on tackling complexities involved with paint production at commercial scale, and the practical application including compatibility with spraying equipment.”
Pirta reports that it has received support from U.K. Government-backed authorities, investment arms and innovation accelerators, including Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, Innovate U.K. Edge and the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI).
“The potential of passive cooling technology is now firmly on the world’s radar. There is a major requirement across industries and continents to offset rising temperatures,” said Pirta CEO Scott Fleming. “With another year of record-breaking temperatures being forecasted in the UK by the Met Office, Pirta is arriving with a simple yet highly effective solution to tackle heat management, in turn helping reduce energy consumption and emissions.”