Disrupted Energy – Nano tech uses a mirror to cool down buildings

New Nano technology allows heat to be drawn away from buildings for free rather than paying for air conditioning

Air conditioning is expensive, it eats up energy, but now scientists have developed a new ultrathin material that cools down a building using a high tech mirror. It is yet another example, of how nanotechnology will have a massively disruptive effect on the energy industry.

The new material is just 1.8 microns thick and is made from seven layers, and consist of silicon dioxide and hafnium oxide laid on top of a thin layer of silver. A micron is one millionth of a metre. It was developed by researchers at Stanford, and combines both solar reflection and infrared radiation.  In a nutshell, this means it can cool a building in two ways. It can both reflect sunlight directly, and radiate infrared heat from inside a building. The heat is sent into space.

The engineers behind the technology say the material can be made inexpensively in fabrication facilities already in existence.

What is fascinating about the idea is it is effectively the reverse of solar energy, but equally as renewable. Solar energy works by using solar energy as a resource, this technology operates by using the coldness of space.

“This photonic approach gives us the ability to finely tune both solar reflection and infrared thermal radiation,” said Linxiao Zhu, co-author of the paper discussing the new technology.  Professor Shanhui Fan, who also worked on the technology said, “it is like having a window into space,” and research associate Aaswath Raman said “We’ve created something that’s a radiator that also happens to be an excellent mirror.” said Raman

Disruptive potential

This is yet another example of the complacency of the energy industry. New technologies are creating the potential to do things that previously required massive amounts of energy generated from fossil fuels.  The combination of renewable energies, energy storage,  greater efficiencies created by the internet of things, and now technologies such as this will combine to disrupt the energy industry and lead to many major players in the industry going out of business, all within a few years.

For more on the high-tech mirror see Stanford engineers invent high-tech mirror to beam heat away from buildings into space  http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/november/radiative-cooling-mirror-112614.html