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A stronger, cooler wood

One good way to reduce the amount of cooling a building needs is to make sure it reflects away infrared radiation. Passive radiative cooling materials are engineered to do this extremely well. Li et al. engineered a wood through delignification and re-pressing to create a mechanically strong material that also cools passively. They modeled the cooling savings of their wood for 16 different U.S. cities, which suggested savings between 20 and 50%. Cooling wood would be of particular value in hot and dry climates.
Science, this issue p. 760

Abstract

Reducing human reliance on energy-inefficient cooling methods such as air conditioning would have a large impact on the global energy landscape. By a process of complete delignification and densification of wood, we developed a structural material with a mechanical strength of 404.3 megapascals, more than eight times that of natural wood. The cellulose nanofibers in our engineered material backscatter solar radiation and emit strongly in mid-infrared wavelengths, resulting in continuous subambient cooling during both day and night. We model the potential impact of our cooling wood and find energy savings between 20 and 60%, which is most pronounced in hot and dry climates.

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Supplementary Material

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Materials and Methods
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References (3739)

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References and Notes

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Published In

Science
Volume 364 | Issue 6442
24 May 2019

Submission history

Received: 27 July 2018
Accepted: 22 April 2019
Published in print: 24 May 2019

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Acknowledgments

Funding: This project is not directly funded. L.H. and T.L. acknowledge the support of the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation and the A. James School of Engineering at the University of Maryland. X.Y. acknowledges the support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Author contributions: T.L., Y.Z., and S.H. contributed equally to this work. L.H., T.L., Y.Z., S.H., and X.Y. designed the experiments. T.L., S.H., W.G., R.M., J.So., J.D., C.C., A.V., and A.M. performed the material preparation and characterization as well as mechanical measurements and analysis. Y.Z., Z.W., X.Z., A.A., X.Y., and R.Y. contributed to the thermal and optical measurement and analysis. M.H., D.D., and J.Sr. performed the modeling for building efficiency. Y.Z., Z.W., and T.L. went to Arizona for field tests. L.H., T.L., Y.Z., and X.Y. collectively wrote the manuscript. Competing interests: L.H., T.L., and S.H. are the inventors on a patent currently pending at the international stage (WO 2019/055789; filed 14 September 2018). All the other authors declare that they have no competing interests. Data and materials availability: All data are available in the manuscript or the supplementary materials.

Authors

Affiliations

Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309, USA.
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
Materials Sciences and Engineering Program, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309, USA.
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
Present address: Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL 60616, USA.
Daniel Dalgo
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309, USA.
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
Jiaqi Dai
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
Ablimit Aili
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309, USA.
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Merced, Merced, CA 95340, USA.
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Merced, Merced, CA 95340, USA.
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309, USA.
School of Energy and Power Engineering, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430074, P.R. China.
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309, USA.
Materials Sciences and Engineering Program, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309, USA.
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.

Notes

*
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Corresponding author. Email: [email protected] (L.H.); [email protected] (X.Y.)

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