Color Changing Roof Tiles Could Control Home Temperature Passively
Passive temperature control is perhaps one of the most important aspects of saving energy nowadays. We all know how energy hungry our heaters and air-conditioners can be, and every watt-hour saved eventually becomes exponentially cumulative in the long run.
The sun is probably one of the cheapest sources of temperature control. It provides heat, which can be easily absorbed and used to warm up rooms. However we don’t want to rely on it too much, and in summer we’d rather much want to stay away from it when possible. The new roof tiles that were developed by a team of MIT graduates may be the one innovation that can solve this heat regulation dilemma, by allowing the roof tiles to passively control the heat that it receives from the sun.
When it comes to light, white reflects, while black absorbs. This is clearly evident by how we see the color in our eyes. White color is produced when all light wavelengths bounce back into your eye. Black color is produced when none (or very few) of the light wavelengths gets bounced back. Since black absorbs more light than white, it is also logical that it absorbs more energy, and thus more heat. If you somehow still need proof of this, just try comparing the temperatures of dry asphalt and the road’s white lines on a hot summer day.
The basic, fundamental function of their special roof tiles is to shift to black or white color depending on the heat that it absorbs. If it absorbs too much heat, the tile will change its color into white. However, if heat is insufficient in the tile, it would turn into black. This allows the roof tile to absorb heat when it is cold, and make it own self cool when it is hot. The developers of this special roof tile named it the Thermeleon tile, after its color changing capability that resembles what chameleons usually do.
Now, how exactly can the roof tile do this? Their prototype roof tile is actually made of a commercial polymer that is in a water solution, which is encapsulated within thin layers of flexible plastic. When the temperature is at a certain low point, the polymer stays dissolved in the solution, showing the black surface behind. As temperature rises to a certain high point, it then condenses, and scatters around to form a white surface layer.
The performance capabilities of the tiles specify that in its white state, it is capable of reflecting off 80% of the sunlight that it receives. This consequently means a significant amount of savings in home cooling, without even the active use of a single watt of power or joule of energy. The heat absorbed when it is in its black state is yet to be known properly though, according to the report.
Aside from its practical use as a passive temperature control tool, it’s also quite cool to consider from a home design point how your entire roof can change color as temperature changes. On a hot summer day, you’ll see your roof glistening white. But on a cold winter day, you’ll see them pitch black. It can easily be aesthetics and function rolled into one convenient platform.
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