Nanotechnology can be used to reduce your carbon footprint and save money on your energy bills.
According to the U.K.’s Energy Saving Trust, around half of the energy loss in a typical home is through the walls and attic. Conventional insulating materials like fiberglass work by trapping air to slow down heat loss. But these materials can be bulky, and are not always practical, especially in an industrial setting.
Nanotechnology works with materials on the atomic and molecular scale to provide innovative solutions to problems.
In recent years, nanotech companies have developed paints and coatings that provide excellent insulation in only a thin layer, which the developers claim can save between 20 percent and 40 percent in energy costs.
Industrial Nanotech Inc., based in Florida, produces a number of environmentally friendly nanotech products for both the industrial and domestic markets.
The product Nansulate is made from the nanocomposite Hydro-NM-Oxide, an acrylic resin, and a performance additive. After being painted on, it forms a 0.1–0.2 mm thick layer that inhibits heat transfer.
The structure of Hydro-NM-Oxide is like a foam, and it has one of the lowest measured thermal conductivity values (0.017 W/mK), according to the Nansulate Web site. Bricks and concrete have a thermal conductivity of about 0.6–0.8 W/mK.
Nansulate comes in a clear or white paint, which can be applied to walls, ceilings, pipes, and tanks by using a standard brush, roller, or paint sprayer, and can be painted over. It needs three coats and develops its insulating properties as it cures over a period of 30–60 days.
As well as the thermal properties, the coating provides protection from mold and corrosion.
Industrial Nanotech says it has also solved the problem of health concerns over the use of nano-sized particles by putting the nanoscale architecture inside microscale particles.
The U.K.-based Thermilate Europe Ltd. also produce an energy-saving paint and undercoat for internal walls that acts as a thermal heat barrier, reflecting heat back into the room. Because the walls actually feel warm to the touch, the paint can dramatically reduce condensation problems, according to the Thermilate Web site. The Warmcoat paint is available in a wide range of colors, and it can also be over-painted.
The Thermilate paint additive, made using NanoCNB technology, is also available and can be added to almost any paint. Thermilate is based on technology developed by NASA to protect spacecraft from heat on re-entry to the Earth’s atmosphere. The micro-sized ceramic particles work like mini vacuum flasks, forming a barrier to heat transfer by conduction.
Both Thermilate and Nansulate are marketed as cost-effective ways to save energy, save money, and save the planet.