WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WANE) – Purdue University has found a way to beat their own record by making the world’s whitest paint even thinner and lighter.

Researchers at Purdue created the formula that earned a Guinness World Record in 2021. The goal was to eventually reduce the need for air conditioning in homes, and now they expanding that goal.

A release from the university announced Monday a new version of the paint that can radiate heat away from cars, trains and airplanes.

Purdue University researchers have created a new formula for the world’s whitest paint, making it thinner and lighter. The previous iteration (left) required a layer 0.4 millimeters thick to achieve sub-ambient radiant cooling. The new formulation can achieve similar cooling with a layer just 0.15 millimeters thick. This is thin and light enough for its radiant cooling effects to be applied to vehicles like cars, trains and airplanes. (Purdue University photo/Andrea Felicelli)

“I’ve been contacted by everyone from spacecraft manufacturers to architects to companies that make clothes and shoes,” said Xiulin Ruan, a Purdue professor of mechanical engineering and developer of the paint. “They mostly had two questions: Where can I buy it, and can you make it thinner?”

After the success of the original formula, the team of researchers continued pushing the limit of materials’ capability to scatter sunlight. The release from Purdue explained the latest formulation is a nanoporous paint incorporating hexagonal boron nitride as the pigment, a substance mostly used in lubricants. This new paint achieves nearly the same benchmark of solar reflectance (97.9%) with just a single 150-micron layer of paint.

The paint also incorporates voids of air, which make it highly porous on a nanoscale. This lower density, together with the thinness, provides another huge benefit: reduced weight. The newer paint weighs 80% less than barium sulfate paint yet achieves nearly identical solar reflectance.

“This light weight opens the doors to all kinds of applications,” said George Chiu, a Purdue professor of mechanical engineering and an expert in inkjet printing. “Now this paint has the potential to cool the exteriors of airplanes, cars or trains. An airplane sitting on the tarmac on a hot summer day won’t have to run its air conditioning as hard to cool the inside, saving large amounts of energy. Spacecraft also have to be as light as possible, and this paint can be a part of that.”

So, where can we buy the paint?

“We are in discussions right now to commercialize it,” Ruan said. “There are still a few issues that need to be addressed, but progress is being made.”

The Purdue researchers look forward to what the paint could accomplish.

“Using this paint will help cool surfaces and greatly reduce the need for air conditioning,” Ruan said. “This not only saves money, but it reduces energy usage, which in turn reduces greenhouse gas emissions. And unlike other cooling methods, this paint radiates all the heat into deep space, which also directly cools down our planet. It’s pretty amazing that a paint can do all that.”