Radiative Cooling and Thermoregulation in the Earth’s Glow

Authors: J. Mandal,* S. Mandal, J. Brewer, A. Ramachandran, A. Raman*.

Preprint: Posted on arXiv (2020-06-21).

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Summary: Passive radiative cooling involves a net radiative heat loss into the cold outer space through the atmospheric transmission windows. Due to its passive nature and net cooling effect, it is a promising alternative or complement to electrical cooling. For efficient radiative cooling of objects, an unimpeded view of the sky is ideal. However, the view of the sky is usually limited – for instance, the walls of buildings have >50% of their field of view subtended by the earth. Moreover, objects on earth become sources of heat under sunlight. Therefore, building walls with hot terrestrial objects in view experience reduced cooling or heating, even with materials optimized for heat loss into the sky.

We show that by using materials with selective long-wavelength infrared (LWIR) emittances, vertical building facades experience higher cooling than achievable by using broadband thermal emitters like typical building envelopes. Intriguingly, this effect is pronounced in the summer and diminishes or even reverses during the winter, indicating a thermoregulation effect. The findings highlight a major opportunity to harness untapped energy savings in buildings.

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