You may already be familiar with Vantablack paint, which absorbs up to 99.96 percent of light. Xiulin Ruan, a professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University, and his students discovered the opposite by creating a white color that reflects 98.1 percent of the sun’s radiation. The material has a cooling effect and might even help fight global warming. Version for the car is in sight.
White paint emits more infrared heat than it absorbs. This paint features different sizes of barium sulfate particles that scatter different wavelengths of solar radiation. This means cooling the surface below the ambient temperature.
For example, previous experiments showed this paint cooled surfaces by 8 degrees Fahrenheit compared to an environment in midday sun. At night, the ultra-white material can keep temperatures 19 degrees Fahrenheit cooler.
That Guinness World Records even recognizes this substance as “The whitest paint.The “This is Purdue” podcast. also interviewed Ruan.
In 2022, the team developed a lighter version of the paint that could be used on vehicles. It is not clear when this substance appeared in cars. Commercial applications are a year or more away.
Ruan also works with barium-sulfate paint in different colors. They will not be as effective as the white versions but still have better solar radiation reflectivity than existing solutions.
When something is Vantablack, it has a matte black look that evens out details into a nearly two-dimensional appearance. In contrast, white paint from Purdue University looks like the conventional color you’d find on a house or car.
BMW painted the 2020 X6 in Vantablack for the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show (below). It was a way to disguise an upcoming model. The automaker took it a step further at the actual event by displaying the vehicle in a room with ultraviolet and fluorescent lighting.
Vantablack maker Surrey Nanosystems only sells the paint to customers who request a sales quote. However, the shade Musou Black is widely available and currently costs around $24.00 for a 100 milliliter bottle.
Photo via Purdue University/Joseph Peoples image, Purdue University/John Underwood photo, and Purdue University/Jared Pike photo