We’ve all heard of green rooftop gardens. But, did you know that a team of recent MIT graduates has developed what could prove to be an even better way to make a roof eco-friendly? These innovators are working to produce roof tiles that change color, depending on the temperature.
The tiles become white when it’s hot, and then turn black when it’s cold.
That means in the summer, these roof tiles would be white. They would reflect sunlight off the roof, keep your house cooler, and even help reduce air conditioning costs.
In the winter, the tiles would turn black. They would absorb energy from the sunlight and help keep your house warmer.
What causes the color change? The tiles consist of a common commercial polymer solution sandwiched between a black backing and a clear plastic cover. When the temperature is below a certain level, the polymer stays in solution, and the black backing shows through. When the temperature rises, the polymer condenses to form tiny droplets. These droplets scatter light , producing a white, reflective surface.
The MIT team, called “Thermeleon” (rhymes with chameleon), developed the tiles as part of MIT’s Making and Designing Materials Engineering Contest (MADMEC). Thermeleon took first place in the contest and won $5,000.
But, don’t look for these roof tiles at your local building supply store just yet.
First, Thermeleon needs to conduct further research about durability, affordability, and production. This research, in turn, will lead to the commercial development of these color-changing roof tiles.
Photo credit: Patrick Gillooly