Porous polymer coatings dynamically control light and heat

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The porous polymer coatings, which switch from white to transparent when wetted, can be put into plastic enclosures to make panels that control light and temperatures of buildings. Credit: Jyotirmoy Mandal/Columbia Engineering

Buildings devote more than 30% of their energy use to heating, cooling, and lighting systems. Passive designs such as cool roof paints have gone a long way toward reducing this usage, and its impact on the environment and climate, but they have one key limitation—they are usually static, and thus not responsive to daily or seasonal changes.

Columbia Engineering researchers have developed porous polymer coatings (PPCs) that enable inexpensive and scalable ways to control light and heat in buildings. They took advantage of the optical switchability of PPCs in the solar wavelengths to regulate solar heating and daylighting, and extended the concept to thermal infrared wavelengths to modulate heat radiated by objects. Their work is published on October 21, 2019 by Joule.

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Refrigerants not required: Flexible metal cooling prototype demonstrates extreme efficiency

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The prototype heating/cooling system uses the remarkable properties of shape-memory nitinol metals for environmentally friendly cooling and heating

A German research team has prototyped an extraordinary heating/cooling system that stresses and unloads nickel-titanium “muscle wires” to create heated and cooled air at twice the efficiency of a heat pump or three times the efficiency of an air conditioner. Crucially, the device also uses no refrigerant gases, meaning it’s a much more environmentally friendly way to heat or cool a space.

The device is based on a peculiar property of certain shape-memory metal alloys that spring back into shape after being deformed. In some cases – particularly with nickel-titanium, also known as nitinol – these metals absorb significant amounts of heat when they’re bent out of shape, and then release that heat when they’re allowed to revert to their normal shape. The difference between the loaded wire and the released wire can be as much as 20° C (36° F).

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Comfy – a new app that solves the No. 1 complaint about offices

comfy

Comfy

You go to work on a hot summer day, but as soon as you sit at your desk, your are freezing. Or it’s winter and the heater keeps you too hot. The heating and cooling system is designed to keep you comfortable but it’s not doing a very good job, and it wastes massive amounts of energy in the process.

 

 

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