Inks to Control Car and Building Temperature?

Phase change inks could transform how we heat and cool buildings, homes, and cars, reducing energy use and global greenhouse gas emissions. Research led by Dr. Mohamad Taha and published in The Royal Society of Chemistry’s Journal of Materials Chemistry documents proof-of-concept ‘phase change inks’ based on nanotechnology to control temperature in everyday environments. The inks adjust the amount of radiation that passes through them based on the surrounding environment.

They reduce energy expenditure and remove the need for auxiliary control systems to control temperatures—an additional energy waste.

To provide comfortable heating in winter, the inks applied on a building façade could automatically transform to allow greater sun radiation to pass through during the day and more insulation to keep warmth in at night. In summer, they could change, forming a barrier to block heat radiation from the sun and the surrounding environment.

The ‘phase change inks’ are a proof-of-concept that can be laminated, sprayed, or added to paints and building materials. They could also be incorporated into clothing to regulate body temperature in extreme environments or to create large-scale, flexible, and wearable electronic devices, including bendable circuits, cameras and detectors, and gas and temperature sensors.

The researchers’ breakthrough started with discovering how to modify a central component of ‘phase change materials’ – vanadium oxide (VO2). Phase change materials use heat or electricity to create sufficient energy for the material to transform itself under stress.

Dr. Taha indicated that the next step will take the research, patented by the University of Melbourne, to production.

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