South Carolina teen works to make asphalt roofs cooler

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In warmer climates, roofs, and especially asphalt shingle roofs can get extremely hot when the sun is beating down on it. Even if there is adequate insulation beneath the roof, a hot roof can increase the temperature inside causing the air conditioning system to work a lot harder. In urban areas, a large number asphalt shingle roofs in close proximity to each other can actually cause the ambient temperature in that area to be several degrees higher.One Pennsylvania teen is looking to tackle this issue by experimenting with a paint-like coating that will make roofs cooler in the summer and reduce the urban heat island effect thus saving energy and cutting energy costs in warmer climates.

Meet Jesseca Kusher

Jesseca Kusher is an 18 year old who attends the Spartanburg Day School in South Carolina. When she learned that the majority of residential roofs were made from dark materials like asphalt and that the temperatures of these roofs could reach more than 160 degrees Fahrenheit, she set out to find a way to make asphalt roofs cooler. She experimented with different types of roof coatings and presented her findings at the 2015 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

The experiment

First, Jesseca prepared four different roof coatings. For all four coatings, she used the same ingredients with the exception of the reflective powder she added in. In one mixture, she added graphite, in another, she added gypsum, and in another she added mica. In the fourth coating, she did not include any powder so that she could be sure it was the reflective powder, and not the coating itself that was causing the decrease in temperature. Next she used one untreated asphalt shingle and four treated shingles (one for each of the powders and one without powder) and placed them beneath a sun lamp and measured the temperatures radiating off of them after 15 minutes.

Her findings

As she had hoped, the untreated shingle and the shingle treated with a coating that did not contain any reflective powder both reached the same, high temperature showing that the coating itself was not responsible for any cooling effect. The other three shingles treated with reflective powders all had lower temperatures. The shingle that was coated with a mixture containing mica was coolest of all reaching 137 degrees Fahrenheit, nearly 30 degrees less than the untreated shingle and 8 degrees less than the shingles treated with graphite and gypsum. Jesseca hopes that her findings can be used to save millions each year in cooling costs. She also hopes that reflective roof coatings will be used to prevent the urban heat island effect which harms the
environment.

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Source: student.societyforscience.org/article/keeping-roofs-cooler-cut-energy-costs