Harsh sunlight is not friendly to metal surfaces. It can speed up corrosion and deterioration as well as make it difficult to keep structures cool.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, however, have made a new type of environment-friendly paint that can reflect those harsh rays away. The glass paint reflects sunlight off on metal roofs, which can keep them and other structures cool and durable.

Paints that are made from polymers are commonly used on cars and homes but sunlight is not favorable to these traditional paints. The ultraviolet rays degrade the polymers so paints fade overtime. The process also releases volatile compound that can be harmful to the environment.

Jason Benkoski, from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics, explained that these are the reasons why he wanted to veer away from polymer coating and switch to inorganic glass ones.

Benkoski and colleagues developed their paint from a mixture of silica, one of the main components of glass, and potassium silicate, which dissolves in water.

The mixture starts off as a liquid so it is possible to spray or brush it into a surface. When the compound dries after a few hours, it becomes almost as hard as rock and becomes water resistant.

Benkoski's paint is mainly inorganic so it should last longer than other paints that have organic compounds. The pain also expands and contracts with metal surfaces, which could prevent cracking.

 The researchers claim that while most outdoor paints can only last a few years in the sun, the glass paint they have developed can survive for hundreds of years without cracking or fading.

Combining silicate with the pigments also allows the paint to reflect sunlight and radiate heat. Because the coating does not absorb sunlight, surfaces that are coated with this paint will be kept at air temperature and even cooler helping protect structures from the heat and the damaging effects of sunlight.

"If you make a paint that can keep an outdoor surface close to air temperature, then you can slow down corrosion and other types of degradation," Benkoski said.

The paint is aimed for naval ships but it can also be used on anyone's roof to keep the heat out and even lower the bill for air conditioning. The researchers said that the glass paint they have developed would also be affordable since the materials that are used are inexpensive and abundant.

Photo: David Whelan | Flickr 

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