Science and Tech

Unusual cooling system with DNA

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An aerogel made of gelatin and DNA exceeds 100% solar reflectance, achieving exceptional radiative cooling. Moreover, it is biodegradable. This novel approach paves the way for next-generation high-performance radiative cooling materials, promoting ecologically friendly advances in this field.

Sustainable, energy-efficient and environmentally friendly cooling technologies are crucial to adapt to our rapidly warming world.

Compared to traditional cooling systems, passive radiative cooling technologies consume less energy and emit fewer greenhouse gases, making them a potentially sustainable thermal management strategy.

However, many passive cooling strategies rely on polymeric materials that lack long-term stability, are not recyclable, or contain harmful compounds.

Furthermore, polymers derived from petrochemical compounds often present challenges when used for optical daytime radiative cooling due to intrinsic solar absorption.

Taking advantage of the interactions between DNA and gelatin, a team led by Jian-Wen Ma of Sichuan University in Chengdu, China, has devised a photoluminescent biomass aerogel with a strong cooling effect.

Ma and colleagues found that combining DNA and gelatin into an ordered layered aerogel structure produces a passive radiative cooling material that achieves an average visible light reflectance of 104.0% through unique fluorescence and phosphorescence behaviors.

The new aerogel made of gelatin and DNA exceeds 100% solar reflectance, achieving exceptional radiative cooling. (Illustration: Amazings / NCYT)

The designed system is capable of cooling ambient temperatures by 16 degrees Celsius in the event of high solar radiation.

Furthermore, the authors of the study have found that these aerogels, made exclusively from biomass, have an impressive capacity for self-repair, recyclability and biodegradability without adverse environmental impact during use.

The study is titled “A photoluminescent hydrogen-bonded biomass aerogel for sustainable radiative cooling.” It has been published in the academic journal Science. (Source: AAAS)

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