Glass-based paint keeps things cool by reflecting sunlight

The glass paint is applied to a test surface(Credit: American Chemical Society)

Whether it’s slides at playgrounds or roofs of houses, there are some things that you just don’t want to heat up in the sun. Not only does it make them uncomfortable to touch, but it also causes them to age prematurely. While painting such surfaces white is one approach, a scientist at Johns Hopkins University has developed another – reflective paint made from glass.

Dr. Jason Benkoski makes his paint from cheap and abundant potassium silicate, a raw ingredient of glass which dissolves in water. He’s tweaked it, however, so that once it’s been sprayed onto a surface and dried, it becomes water-resistant. Pigment has also been added, to give it color and to boost its reflective qualities.

The paint is almost entirely inorganic, which should make it much longer-lasting than traditional organic polymer-based paints that degrade in the sunlight. Additionally, it doesn’t give off as many volatile organic compounds as traditional paints, plus it’s able to expand and contract with metal surfaces to which it’s been applied, instead of cracking.

That said, it still has a very hard, unyielding consistency once dry.

Although Benkoski designed the paint mainly with use on naval ships in mind, he envisions it also being utilized on things like playground equipment, bleachers, or rooftops. He hopes to begin field testing within two years.

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