September 2023

Swatch #10 animate materials

In the context of the prevailing global, catastrophic heatwaves and their far-reaching impact across the world, this month’s Swatch focusses its attention on heat-resistant and animated materials.

July saw the hottest global temperatures in history, resulting in wildfires and heat-related deaths.

This led us to question: if extreme heat continues, what will the impact be on materials and how can we build resilience to the potential extremes ahead?

Researchers at the University of Chicago have developed a cladding material with the ability to change colour, based on external temperature – serving to enhance a building’s energy efficiency.

The composite material, composed of copper foil, plastic and graphene layers alters its infrared colour in response to the temperature it encounters. On hot days it emits more heat, appearing yellow in thermal imaging, while on cold days it retains heat, appearing purple.

This innovative technology has the potential to be retrofitted to existing buildings, contributing to improved heating and cooling processes. About 35% of a building’s energy goes to heating, cooling, and ventilation, but with the help of animated materials, this could reduce energy consumption by 8%.

This new material could allow buildings to independently regulate the temperature, without the added cost to the environment. From ancestral building techniques to uber innovative technologies, we have to rethink the way we approach and make materials.

At Seymourpowell, we are constantly pushing the limits of materials and are eager to apply our experience in dealing with heat resistant materials for transportation to other industries.

Have you come across similar technologies?

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