The “Whitest Paint On Record” Was Just Created, and It Could Lessen the Need for AC

updated Apr 20, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
close up of paint can and paint brush
Credit: Jamie Grill Photography/Getty Images

You may have heard of the invention of “Vantablack,” the blackest black paint on the market — so black that it does not reflect any sunlight, effectively making whatever it’s painted on a visual black hole. Researchers at Purdue University just made Vantablack’s white equivalent, which they say is the “whitest paint on record.”

According to Dezeen, the “ultra-white” paint reflects 98.1 percent of sunlight, meaning it has the potential to reduce the need for air conditioning. It’s made with a barite-derived pigment called barium sulfate, often found in cosmetics and paper, which deflects infrared heat from the surface on which the white paint is applied, unlike titanium dioxide-based paints that absorb the sun’s UV rays. Per CNN, regular white paint absorbs between 10 to 20 percent of sunlight, whereas the “ultra-white” paint only absorbs about 1.8 percent of sunlight.

So far, tests have shown that this paint can keep a surface four degrees Celsius cooler at high noon and 10 degrees Celsius cooler at night.

The paint can effectively cool a surface due to the fact that it’s created by using a high concentration of barium sulfate in various particle sizes, thus broadening its ability to scatter particles from the sun. Purdue researchers believe that if this paint is used on a massive scale, its passive cooling technology could reduce the heat retention in cities, turning them into reflective islands (similar to the polar ice caps), thereby reducing the effects of global warming.

“If you were to use this paint to cover a roof area of about 1,000 square feet, we estimate that you could get a cooling power of 10 kilowatts,” Xiulin Ruan, a professor of mechanical engineering who led the research at Purdue University, told Dezeen. “That’s more powerful than the central air conditioners used by most houses.”

As of right now, researchers believe the “ultra-white” paint could hit the market in the next two years.