Solar Paint

Sustainability Problem: Mass adoption of Clean Energy Alternative

It took 60 years (1840-1900) for coal to rise from supplying 5% of global energy to 50%, dethroning wood. Oil took another 50 years (1915-1965) to beat coal, rising from 5% to 40% and more recently from 1930 to 1985, Natural Gas rose from 5% to 25% of global energy supply. Given how long these transitions take, it is important to invent, develop and market technologies in clean energy for mass adoption – considering the pace at which the world is grappling to avert catastrophic climate change.

Solution: A team of researchers from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) has developed a paint that can be used to generate clean energy.

  • They developed a new compound that sucks water vapor from the air – much like those humidity-absorbing packets of silica gel one can find in many consumer products. But unlike silica, the new material (synthetic molybdenum-sulphide) also acts as a semiconductor and water-splitting catalyst, meaning that it takes water molecules and separates them into oxygen and hydrogen, a clean fuel source.
  • The compound is made more effective when mixed with titanium oxide, a white pigment often found in house paint, which makes it easily applicable to a wide range of buildings – converting a brick wall into energy harvesting and fuel producing real estate.
  • This paint is likely to be effective in a variety of climates, from damp environments to hot and dry ones near large bodies of water.
  • It can be used to cover areas that wouldn’t get enough sunlight to justify the placement of solar panels, maximizing the solar output. With this paint any surface can be painted — a fence, a garage, or a doghouse and transformed into an energy-producing structure.

Stakeholders: Policy makers (Green Building Codes), Real Estate Contractors, Paint Manufacturers and typically any home/office owner.

Deployment: Before the paint gets commercially viable in next five years:

  • Paint manufacturers will have to collaborate with researchers to understand the technology and start aligning their manufacturing lines
  • Policy plays a significant role in any city dynamics – effort should begin to include such paint in any new building codes including retrofit codes
  • Awareness – researchers, paint industry (upstream and downstream) and government agencies should create awareness among residential and commercial building owners – not an expensive paint to use as an alternative, generates clean and cheap energy, an easy to use – mass adoption solution!



4 thoughts on “Solar Paint

  1. This sounds like a really interesting technology! If the solar paint is able to generate enough energy, this could be used in car paint to supplement the existing brake-powered charging, moving the electric car even further toward a fully self-generating vehicle.


  2. This is an interesting idea in theory. It does raise a couple of questions about the implementation and practicalities, though. How will it harvest and store the energy, and how long will the charge last? Will they be able to make the paint 100% explosion safe? Because whenever hydrogen and oxygen directly interact there will be an explosion unless proper precautions are taken. I could not see anything about these issues in the article.
    However, if these things are sorted and made fool-proof, this could be an amazing opportunity for houses to start creating their own fuel source. In turn, this paint could even be used on ships sailing long distances to make the journey more energy efficient, as ships are known to be a massively polluting.


  3. I think Solar Paint could be the latest breakthrough in Renewable Energy. This may sound like a new kind of solar panel, but it’s a completely different technology, and one that should prove to be far less costly than the use solar panels to harvest energy. The paint that covers our home can be a source of clean energy.


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