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Air Conditioner Sales Under Threat From Heat Blocking Film

Retailers could soon be selling heat-blocking film that you can stick on your windows replacing the need for large air conditioners, the film can block up to 70 per cent of the sun’s rays.

Seen as a real threat to the appliance industry the film gets darker as temperatures rise to reject more heat on hotter days. It could also see households spending less on large air conditioning units investing instead in small less power-hungry units claim experts.

The heat reflecting film was developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

It shrinks and becomes opaque when exposed to temperatures of 32 degrees Centigrade (89F) or higher. Below 32C the film is fully transparent and does not reflect heat.

The team claims that if every exterior-facing window on your house were covered in this film, the building’s air conditioning costs could drop by 10 per cent.

In Australia it’s estimated that air conditioners use up to 10% of all electricity.

In a trial, engineers applied a solution of the heat-shielding substance between two sheets of 12-by-12-inch glass to create a film-coated window.

They shone light onto the window to mimic incoming sunlight.

The film turned frosty in response to the heat, reflecting 70 per cent of the heat produced by the lamp.

The polymer material is thermochromic and will temporarily change phase or colour in response to heat.

MIT Professor Nicholas Fang says the material provides an affordable and energy-efficient alternative to existing smart window technologies.

Prof Fang said: ‘We thought there might be room for new optical materials and coatings to provide better smart window options.

‘Smart windows on the market currently are either not very efficient in rejecting heat from the sun, or they may need more power to drive them, so you would be paying to basically turn windows opaque.

‘Meeting this challenge is critical for a metropolitan areas like Hong Kong, where they are under a strict deadline for energy savings.’

The research was published in the journal Joule.

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