Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sending heat back where it came from

This scientific advance seems shocking. These days, we're used to seeing solar panels covering the roofs of buildings. Although this new discovery also involves placing panels on a roof, it's an entirely different scheme. Rather than generating power, these panels send much of the sun's heat back into the coldness of space!
"People usually see space as a source of heat from the sun, but away from the sun outer space is really a cold, cold place," explained Shanhui Fan, professor of electrical engineering and the paper's senior author. "We've developed a new type of structure that reflects the vast majority of sunlight, while at the same time it sends heat into that coldness, which cools manmade structures even in the day time." 
This is a whole 'nother thing, people. And it could help even those who live in areas without electrical power. It requires no power other than the sun. Imagine the pleasure of cool spaces in the hottest places on the Earth.
Radiative cooling has another profound advantage over all other cooling strategy such as air-conditioner. It is a passive technology. It requires no energy. It has no moving parts. It is easy to maintain. You put it on the roof or the sides of buildings and it starts working immediately.
This is a game-changer. And though the linked article doesn't mention it, if we've discovered a way to send heat back into space, we have an effective way to address climate change. I'd say that's news.