White paint can promise a brighter future

Scientists have crafted the whitest paint currently known to mankind; here’s how it can massively change the circumstances of our environment for the best.


Purdue University

: Xiulin Ruan presents the Purdue-born creation of the whitest known paint.

Jasmin Parrado, Staff Writer

You might be asking: how can a substance so simple and familiar as white paint substantially shift the course of the world’s condition? Science answers the question with one of its most recent discoveries in a laboratory at Purdue University: the whitest paint manufactured on record.


Mechanical engineering professor Xiulin Ruan began this project with his team of students and colleagues over seven years ago, developing research and experimentation to pursue the purest shade of white possible. Such efforts culminated to a successful result that has earned a Guinness World Record in wake of the revelation.


But keep in mind: this project was not developed to top the scales among the various competing companies, full of their dull off-white paint buckets and interior design mazes. This project was developed in order to combat the impact of global warming.


The white paint idea was brought on by the incentive for an ideal structure that could reflect more sunlight than it absorbs, so let’s understand the premise underlying the ability of the substance to do such a thing.


White is an augment color; it reflects all light wavelengths, prompting us to see objects in its nature with no visible hue. Since its strength of reflection persists in deflecting energy from the sun (which is another source for light waves), that light energy is not absorbed. Absorption is necessary for the conversion of light into energy that we all, with our senses, perceive as thermal (heat) energy; therefore, without it, overall heat energy would diminish given the extent of reflection brought on by the presence of white in our surroundings.


We all know a situation that lends itself to a majority of the reasons for massive change in climate conditions, and that is the excessive heating in the atmosphere of our earth. Greenhouse gases trap the energy absorbed and converted, and temperatures raise to concerning amounts as time progresses. To implement a substance with an exterior so strongly white into our civilizations and towns presents a possible resolution for alleviating the severity of the gradual heating.


So, does that mean that the Home Depot heavy-duty paint in your dad’s garage or white-out stick in your supply drawer can do the same thing, for that matter? Not necessarily. Most white paints are only capable of reflecting a good 80% or at most, 90% of light energy from our star, leaving much room for thermal energy to still expand in wake of prevalent atmospherical absorption, but get this: the paint created by Ruan and his students can reflect 98.1% of radiation from the sun—a substantial percent change that makes all the difference in the capabilities of white paint.


Since its heat deflecting properties are outstanding, another perk of the paint that can completely change how we construct establishments in our society comes in its ability to cool the structures it covers. Its cooling power can reach 10 kilowatts for a 1,000 square foot coverage, which far outweighs that of the A.C. systems we’re all familiar with today. And with that in mind, Purdue researchers aim to work with a company to distribute this white paint through the market in due time.


All things considered, circumstances can still become tricky when such a powerful creation is widely released; mass distribution will demand more supply, as the way of the world wills it so. The pure white glory of the paint at Purdue owes itself to the high amount of barium sulphate present in the substance, making up a majority of the chemical composition and varying in size throughout to establish its effect. If supply is to increase, more digging and mining for the barite ore that allows for barium sulphate production overall will in turn, leave a carbon footprint on its way out the door.


This is where balance will be key in manufacturing and selling the paint; we must also not solely depend on the distribution of it to reverse the environmental conditions we face. Scientists must continue developing other methods that can aid the significant turnover in the outlook on our atmosphere, building and building until we can all circulate a more environmentally aware expanse to work off and improve on. In the meantime, we’ve made progress, and that’s pretty cool! (Get it?)