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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Technology Note

Air Date: Week of May 11, 2001

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Transcript

GRABER: Most of a homeowner's energy costs come from air conditioners in the summer and heaters in the winter. Now, one Chinese scientist says he has an energy-saving solution that can increase the inside home temperature by about seven degrees Fahrenheit in the winter and cool your home by about 14 degrees in the summer. He's developed a heat-sensitive paint that changes color as the seasons change. When the temperature warms up the paint is a paler blue, reflecting light and keeping your house cooler. As winter sets in, the paint takes on a darker, reddish tint and absorbs heat from the sun. It works like this: When fats are solid, they're opaque. They become translucent when they melt, kind of like butter. It starts out yellow and becomes see-through in a frying pan. For heat-sensitive paint, dyes are added to fats and form small beads, which are added to the paint. Scientists have long been interested in developing heat-sensitive house paint. But most of the pigments used in current heat-sensitive paints break down under UV light and last at most a few months. The Chinese researcher says his paint can last outside up to four years. That's this week's technology note. I'm Cynthia Graber.

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