World's Whitest Paint Has Been Thinned up Enough To Be Fit for Cars and Planes

World’s whitest paint has been thinned up enough to be fit for cars and planes 6 photos
Photo: Mazda
Xiulin Ruan, a Purdue University professor of mechanical engineering, and his students have created the whitest paint on recordThe new version of the world's whitest paint seen on the right, compared to the thicker, previous formulationMazda CX-60 crossover in Rhodium WhiteMazda CX-60 crossover in Rhodium WhiteMazda CX-60 crossover in Rhodium White
The whitest paint in the world has been discovered at Purdue University, and now researchers announced that they found a way to make it thinner. This makes it light enough for use in automotive and aviation.
If you remember 2019, BMW presented an X6 painted in Vantablack, touted as the blackest paint in history. The BMW X6 was almost impossible to catch on camera because the Vantablack sucked all the light, appearing like a hole in the pictures. Soon, another black paint was invented that was even blacker, called Musou Black. Naturally, Porsche wanted to have a 911 painted with it. Now, there’s another quest going to find the whitest white paint.

A month ago, researchers at Purdue University made it to the Guinness Book with a world record for the whitest paint. Unlike the blacks mentioned above, which absorb 99.6% of the light, Purdue’s white color would reflect most of the light. According to the researchers at Purdue University, the white paint formula reflects 98.1% of solar radiation while emitting infrared heat at the same time.

Because it emits more heat than it absorbs, a surface coated with this paint is cooled below the surrounding temperature. Call it free cooling, if you will. There are a lot of applications imaginable for this paint, and cars could benefit as well. Unfortunately, the paint needs to be applied in a thick layer, making it quite heavy and thus improper for use in automotive and aviation. Fortunately, the researchers continued their work and now announced that they have thinned the paint to the point that it can be applied to things that drive and fly.

The original whitest paint used barium sulfate nanoparticles to reflect 98.1% of the sunlight, cooling outdoor surfaces by more than 4.5 degrees Celsius (around 8 degrees Fahrenheit) below ambient temperature. The paint layer should be at least 400 microns thick to achieve this cooling performance. That’s fine for stationary structures, like a roof or building.

The new formulation developed by the researchers can achieve similar cooling with a layer of just 150 microns. This time, they used a nanoporous paint incorporating hexagonal boron nitride as the pigment. The new paint weighs 80% less than barium sulfate paint yet achieves nearly identical solar reflectance.

“This not only saves money, but it reduces energy usage, which in turn reduces greenhouse gas emissions,” said Xiulin Ruan, a Purdue professor of mechanical engineering and developer of the paint. “And unlike other cooling methods, this paint radiates all the heat into deep space, which also directly cools down our planet. It’s pretty amazing that a paint can do all that.”

If we’re to believe Purdue University researchers, the paint is very close to entering production. Although a few issues still need to be addressed, the team is already in talks with paint producers. We’re so close to having everything around us painted in white to save money on air conditioning. And although people love white cars, I’m not sure this is a compelling proposition.
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Editor's note: The gallery features pictures of the revolutionary paint, as well as of Mazda CX-60 crossover in Rhodium White, for illustration purposes.

About the author: Cristian Agatie
Cristian Agatie profile photo

After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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