SABER: The self-cooling material
Air conditioning systems are often loud, ugly, expensive and not at all ecologically minded. Could this new material help buildings become net zero energy systems while maintaining the comfort of modern AC units? Researchers at the University of California – Berkley hope so and offer a promising material development.
Maria-Paz Gutierrez and her research team at BIOMS are working together with bioengineer Luke Lee to develop SABER, a new self-cooling material membrane that is intended to wrap around buildings an perform like naturally cooling ‘skin’.
This ‘skin’ does not require an external power source but rather consists of micro-scale valves and lenses that open and close by means of sensors that respond to outside conditions such as heat, light and humidity. In this way, the façade of a building, whether it is applied to a small cabin or an enormous stadium, becomes self-regulating.
This membrane does not chill the air like air conditioners do, but rather regulates indoor air, with a passive strategy more in line with what building designers of the past widely relied upon to regulate challenging climatic conditions.
A ‘skin’ that cools naturally:
Via Co-EXIST, Maria-Paz Gutierrez likens the inspiration for this innovation to the way human skin performs:
“It began with the aim of being a skin that can breathe, similar to our skin, that can open and close its pores, to regulate the temperature, humidity, and light conditions.”
The BIOMS team are looking to make SABER an ultra-low cost technological alternative for use in countries in the developing world, where energy consumption is rising rapidly.
You can find out more about this team’s research and their many material innovations here.