Oddly enough, while many modernist forms of architecture allow for provisions of natural light into the building, the effect of sunlight itself can be pretty tough even on robust structures. One of the primary reasons for this baleful scenario relates to the sheer degree of heat generated on metallic surfaces, ranging from roof sheds to naval crafts. Furthermore, the conventional paints based on polymers tend to degrade over time due to the ultraviolet scope of sun rays. But as usual, innovative science can once again play its crucial role in mitigating such material predicaments – as is evident from the concoction of an eco-friendly paint made from glass. Devised by a team of researchers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab (headed by Jason J. Benkoski, Ph.D), this ‘glass’ paint can help in reflecting the sunlight off the metallic surfaces, thus keeping them both cool and durable.
As we mentioned before, polymer paints can degrade due to the effect of ultraviolet rays. This problem is further exacerbated by the tendency of such paints to diffuse harmful volatile organic compounds into the surrounding environment. But the glass-based paint avoids the same issues because its inorganic silica composition – that accounts from both hardiness and conducive optic properties.
However, silica does have one major disadvantage, and it relates to its intrinsic brittleness. The scientists have addressed this issue by creating a brand new coating that entails potassium silicate, a ‘version’ of the silica. This (water soluble) compound was chemically modified to be completely water resistant, and the resultant substance was made into a spraying agent that would stick to surfaces and then rapidly dry up.
In terms of advantages, the inorganic nature of the glass paint allows it to be durable when compared to its acrylic and polyurethane counterparts. Interestingly, the substance is also contrived in such a manner so that it can ‘sync up’ with metal surfaces – which allows it to expand and contract, thus preventing occurrences of cracking.
But the ‘piece de resistance’ of the paint arguably relates to the incorporation of special pigments within the silicate composition. In essence, this accentuates its reflective properties (while enhancing its capacity to passively radiate heat). Simply put, due to reflection of the sunlight, the painted surface will tend to remain at a slightly lower temperature (than its surroundings), thus upholding the structural integrity of outdoor facades. As Benkoski said –
When you raise the temperature of any material, any device, it almost always by definition ages much more quickly than it normally would. It’s not uncommon for aluminum in direct sunlight to heat 70 degrees Fahrenheit above ambient temperature. If you make a paint that can keep an outdoor surface close to air temperature, then you can slow down corrosion and other types of degradation.
Now lastly, in terms of commercialization, the glass paint was originally developed to be used on naval vessels. However, as the researchers made it clear, it can also be potentially used in more domestic scenarios, including roof tops, playground slides and bleachers. To that end, practical testing phases are expected to commence within a period of two years.