Scientists have created a glass paint that can bounce sunlight off metal roofs and keep them at air temperature. This is no minor feat. The sun can heat metal surfaces so much that playground slides or stadium bleachers can become too hot to use.
The new paint has another potential upside. Since it’s almost completely inorganic—a mixture of silica, the main ingredient in glass, and silicon rubber—it doesn’t degrade in ultraviolet light and can last much longer than typical polymer-based coatings.
“It’s almost like painting a rock on top of your metal. And this is going to last not tens of years but maybe hundreds of years,” says Jason Benkoski, senior scientist at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. Benkoski, who will start field testing his paint within the next two years, says it could take five years to commercialize the product. He expects having the U.S. Navy as a research sponsor will boost the paint’s odds for success.