Smarter Solutions to Improve Our World

The next breakthrough in architecture may not come from the likes of Frank Gehry, according to Alex Goldmark, but from a chemist because they are the ones developing new compounds that aren't just stronger, or cleaner, but also smarter.
November 23, 2011, 8am PST | David Zeetser
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The benefits to creating smarter solutions are impressive, says Goldmark. New ideas include street cleaners, to energy savers.

For street cleaners, "Several companies, including Johnstone's in the UK and Sto® in the US, are offering external wall paints that clean themselves, thanks to a structure that repels dirt, inspired by the humble lotus plant. The rough surfaces of its leaves, whose cells are arranged in extensive folds with tiny wax crystals jutting out, cause water droplets to form little balls which attract dirt particles as they roll to the ground, nudged along by microscopic pockets of air."

Goldmark states that "Black roofs trap heat. White roofs repel it. A difficult choice in an unstable climate, but one that architects may no longer have to make. New roof tiles can modify their surface to be dark or light, responding to the temperature outdoors." Former MIT researcher Robbie Barbero has co-founded Thermeleon to commercialize a coating for roof tiles that changes its properties to keep the building warm or cool, "with no input or thought required from the building owner", he says.

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Published on Tuesday, November 22, 2011 in This Big City
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