With climate change on everyone’s mind lately scientists at UC Berkley developed a Smart Roof Coating that will keep homes and commercial buildings warm during the winter and cool during the summer. With this technology, the current cool roof coating market as we know it today may become obsolete. Read on to find out why.
What is a Smart Roof Coating?
A new material called temperature-adaptive radiative coating (TARC for short). This material is a metal, Vanadium dioxide. This metal in simple terms changes its state when it hits certain temperatures. For example, when the temperature is at 77 degrees or higher, the material’s thermal emittance (the ability to release heat) is high, so it is essentially reflecting the heat into the sky and keeping the indoor temperature cool.
However, when the temperature is on the cooler side, below 77 degrees its thermal emittance is low, which means it is retaining heat which will heat up the indoor temperature.
Additionally, it does this completely on its own, which makes Vanadium dioxide truly unique.
How was it developed?
BY CHANCE. It’s true the Berkley scientists we’re studying the Wiedemann-Franz Law. Which states that “good conductors of electricity are also good conductors of heat.”. Metals, as we understand them, fit this category, however, these same scientists while studying Vanadium dioxide found that VO2 breaks that law. This metal conducts electricity but not heat. Realizing the potential, they decided to test it on roofs.
How is this different than Cool Roof Coatings?
Cool Roofs, such as acrylic and silicone coatings, have a high thermal emittance (the release of heat). Which do have plenty of benefits, however, because they do work well at reflecting the Sun’s U.V rays and reducing heat inside a building, during the winter (when it is cooler or flat out cold indoors), people will rely on their heating systems to keep them warm. Thus, increasing your energy bills and usage. This phenomenon with cool roof coatings is called “overcooling”.
How is a TARC smart roof coating applied?
In its current form, TARC is a thin-film device that is described as looking like “scotch tape”. It can be applied and attached to a roof. Being that it’s in its preliminary stages that’s about all we know as far as how to apply this material onto the roof.
How much will TARC smart roof coating will save building owners and homeowners?
In their study, scientists concluded that a property owner could save up to 10% on electricity. Where the biggest differences will be felt in cities where the temperature varies dramatically from day to night. Cities such as San Francisco and New York.
TARCS’s potential is not just roofing.
With VO 2’s (Vanadium dioxide) unique ability to change based on temperature. Researchers are studying if they can apply this coating on batteries in smartphones, to prolong the battery life and even in fabric for use such as hats and jackets, that will temperature regulate.
A roof coating that changes the temperature inside a building as the weather changes, all year round is an obvious game changer. In places such as Los Angeles, the energy savings will not be as dramatic as the temperature does not change drastically from day to night as in other cities, but the savings will make a difference, nevertheless.
With so many questions left unanswered, such as cost, scientists are just now conducting studies on a large scale to see if TARC smart roof coatings can become a practical roof coating that roofers could commercialize and install in the future. We are years away from smart-roof coatings becoming an actual thing, but when they do arrive Cool Roof Coatings as we know them, may become obsolete.
Andres is the Marketing Director at Central Roofing Company. He writes about commercial roofing, cool roofs, and everything else roofing related.