Check out the description of a real world situation below, shared by the American Society of Engineering Education’s publication “Prism” Winter 2021 issue. What other situations can this newly engineered technology be used in? Would you modify or improve this technology in any way?
“Humans spend a lot of money to maintain their interior environments at a comfortable temperature. Heating and cooling buildings also generates a whopping 28 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, so engineers are constantly trying to find a way to reduce or eliminate the need for power-hungry HVAC systems. One long-cherished idea was to devise an exterior paint that could reflect sunlight and keep buildings cooler. But until now, reflective paints didn’t cool surfaces beyond ambient temperatures. However, a new type of white paint developed by mechanical engineers at Purdue University is able to reflect 95.5 percent of sunlight and cool its daytime surface temperature to an average of around 1.7 degrees C less than the ambient temperature, the BBC reports. The paint’s key ingredient is a large amount of calcium carbonate of differing particle sizes. Meanwhile, mechanical engineers at the University of North Texas have invented a safer and more sustainable building insulation that the conventional polyurethane-based products now in wide use. Current materials release volatile compounds into the air that can make people ill and contribute to climate change. Conventional foams also don’t quickly break down once they’re disposed of and can remain in the environment for a thousand years. The North Texas material uses a corn-based polylactic acid with cellulose fibers and supercritical CO2 mixed in, so it contains no volatile organic compounds. Besides being safer, the foam is 12 percent more effective than keeping buildings warm or cool, and 90 percent of its biodegrades within 50 days.”