Nano-particles key to Hutt-driven super paint

KAROLINE TUCKEY
Last updated 09:56 20/11/2012
HUTpaintweb
GNS

Colour of money: Dr John Kennedy says highly reflective paint technology being developed by his team at GNS in Gracefield could be an export advantage for New Zealand paint manufacturers.

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A new roof paint to help combat global warming by reflecting sunlight and cooling buildings is being developed by a team of Hutt City techies.

In 2009 US Energy Adviser and nobel prize-winning physicist professor Steven Chu called for all roofs to be painted white to reflect heat from sunlight into space to help combat global warming.

Last week Lower Hutt-based companies Resene Paints and GNS Science began a partnership to develop an affordable, highly reflective roof paint.

GNS scientist and project leader Dr John Kennedy says the team is working on methods to incorporate reflective metal oxide nano- particles into paint to reflect the infra-red rays in sunlight.

Reflective coatings already available are expensive, only available in some colours, and "only partly effective", he says.

"We can increase that by three to five times.

"Improvements in reflectance will translate into much greater value for consumers due to reduced energy bills, lower maintenance and replacements costs, and a larger colour range."

Once the technology is perfected it will be adapted for large-scale manufacture and there is also potential to adapt it for other coatings such as marine and vehicle coatings. "The global market for coloured coatings with infra-red reflective pigments is valued at $250 million a year, and it is growing at about 12 per cent annually," Dr Kennedy says.

GNS scientists have already developed a chamber that produces the nano-particles in small quantities in crystal form.

Ongoing research will focus on finding a method to break the crystals down so the nano- particles are evenly distributed through the paint. The project is funded by a $450,000 Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment grant to help establish New Zealand as a leader in "cool coating technology".

Resene is to supply $100,000 in technical support and industry expertise.

Trials of the new production process could be completed by late 2014, with hopes for commercial production in early 2015, Dr Kennedy says.

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