A new coat of paint does more than add a pretty finish: it protects the surface it covers. White paint also reflects sunlight, decreasing the amount of energy needed to keep buildings and vehicles cool. But the benefits may only last a few years.

Metal roof

That’s because modern paints, which are partly made of plastic, break down in the sun. So Jason Benkoski of Johns Hopkins University is developing a paint based instead on silica dioxide – otherwise known as glass.

BENKOSKI: “The big difference between the silica that we are using and the plastic paints that you’re used to seeing is that the silica doesn’t get damaged by the sun over time.”

The first user of this new paint will be the U.S. Navy, which has a practical reason for funding the research.

Innovation: Glass-based paint both durable and energy-saving. Click To Tweet

BENKOSKI: “The deck of the ship can get really hot ’cause that gets a lot of direct sun exposure. And the cooling bills for the ships are really high, and they’re also worried about things like corrosion and degradation. So if they can have a very durable paint that lasts for a long time and protects the surface and keeps the temperature low, there’s a lot of cost savings that they expect to get from that.”

Consumers may soon get the same benefits. Benkoski says his glass paint will begin appearing on store shelves in four to six years.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media/Drew Dickerson.
Photo: Plain metal roof (copyright protected).

More Resources
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