Say goodbye to air conditioning with new roofing material

The guilt-free air conditioning, called "cooling paper," is made from recyclable paper and doesn't use any electricity.

Credit: Chromatograph via Unsplash

This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink.

Air conditioning is something you barely notice — until the power goes out, and it no longer works. But what if keeping cool didn't require electricity at all?

A scientist has invented a material that reflects the sun's rays off rooftops, and even absorbs heat from homes and buildings and radiates it away. And — get this — it is made from recyclable paper.

The essential AC:
Air conditioners are in 87% of homes in the United States, costing the homeowner $265 per year, on average. Some homes can easily spend twice that.

With global temperatures on the rise, no one is giving up their AC. More people are installing air conditioners than ever before, especially in developing countries where the middle class can finally afford them. 15 years ago, very few people in China's urban regions had air conditioners; now, there are more AC units in China than there are homes.

But AC has drawbacks: it's expensive, and it takes a ton of electricity, which usually comes from fossil fuels, causing air pollution and global warming.

No electricity required: Yi Zheng, an associate professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at Northeastern University, calls his material "cooling paper."

He hopes that people everywhere will wrap their houses in the cooling paper one day, reports Good News Network. In addition to the cooling benefits, the paper doesn't require any electricity, and it is 100% recyclable.

The paper can reduce a room's temperature by up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a radical but effective alternative to today's air conditioners, which consume a lot of power.

How to make "cooling paper": I remember making paper as a kid by soaking newsprint, shredding it in the blender, and rolling the slurry flat while pressing out the water. Zheng's technique isn't any more advanced than my 4th-grade science fair project. Except instead of pressing flower petals into his pulp, he mixed it with the material that makes up Teflon. The "porous microstructure of the natural fibers" inside the cooling paper absorbs heat and transfers it away from the house.

Zheng even tried recycling his cooling paper to remake a new sheet and found that it didn't lose any cooling power in the process.

"I was surprised when I obtained the same result," Zheng said. "We thought there would be maybe 10 percent, 20 percent of loss, but no."

New crystal produced with gunpowder is stronger than diamond

Scientists created the mineral lonsdaleite in a lab and tested its strength using sound waves — before it was obliterated.

This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink.

Diamonds may be a girl's best friend because of their shine and glam, but they are also helpful in practical ways. The superstrong mineral is used as an industrial abrasive, on the edges of cutting tools, or on ultra-powerful drill bits.

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Metal-like materials have been discovered in a very strange place.

Credit: Mike Workman/Adobe Stock
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  • Researchers have discovered that the jaws contain metal.
  • It appears that biological processes could one day be used to manufacture metals.
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World’s blackest black? Purdue made the world’s whitest white

In paint form, the world's "whitest white" reflects so much light that surfaces become cooler than the surrounding air.

Credit: yuravector/Adobe Stock/Big Think
  • Scientists at Purdue University announce the whitest white ever developed. It will be available as paint and a nanofilm.
  • The new paint can actually cool surfaces on which it's applied, potentially reducing the need for climate-unfriendly air conditioners.
  • This is the second whitest white to come from these researchers, and they believe this is about as white as any material could ever be.
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Smartly dressed: Researchers develop clothes that sense movement via touch

Measuring a person's movements and poses, smart clothes could be used for athletic training, rehabilitation, or health-monitoring.

In recent years there have been exciting breakthroughs in wearable technologies, like smartwatches that can monitor your breathing and blood oxygen levels.

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