The World’s Whitest Paint Could Remove the Need for Air Conditioning

Professor Xiulin Ruan and his students have created the whitest paint in the world. Purdue University/John Underwood

By Allison Li

Purdue University professor of mechanical engineering Xiulin Ruan and his students have created the whitest paint on record, which scientists claim could potentially lower or remove the need for air conditioning. 

The paint’s color property is derived from ​​a very high concentration and variously sized particles of barium sulfate, a compound also used in cosmetics. Because of the wide range of particle sizes, the paint is able to scatter a larger portion of the visible spectrum from the sun. 

According to Purdue University researchers, the initial goal of the project was to develop a paint that could reflect sunlight away from a building in order to save energy and reduce climate change. So how can this paint contribute to the fight against global warming? The World Economic Forum stated that emissions from air conditioners could increase global temperatures by at least 1 degree Fahrenheit by 2100.

The paint possesses the ability to reflect 98.1% of solar radiation, and because it absorbs less heat than it reflects, the surface it is painted with will cool naturally. Their research showed that in an outside temperature of 43 degrees Fahrenheit, the paint lowered a sample’s temperature by 18 degrees. 

In contrast, most commercial white paint absorbs heat and thus warms up. White paint in the market that aims to reflect light cannot reflect it to the extent that its surface becomes cooler than its surroundings. 

According to Ruan’s research, the white paint on a 1,000 square foot surface could have a cooling power of 10 kilowatts, almost three times as much as an average AC unit with a cooling power of 3.5 kW. 

Purdue has filed patent applications and are working to put the paint on the market; lowering the usage of air conditioning with this paint could be a promising step taken towards reducing the effects of global warming.


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