What’s to be done with the waste oil left behind in fast food restaurants after all the French fries, onion rings, and chicken nuggets have been sizzled to perfection? While many enterprising tinkerers use the stuff to run modified cars, one group of scientists is hoping to use fast food waste oil in an entirely new way: They want to turn it into a “smart roof coating system” that would help keep houses warm in winter and cool in summer.
Presenting the idea at a meeting of the American Chemical Society, project leader Ben Wen from United Environment and Energy says the waste oil can be turned into a high-tech polymer that reacts to the environment.
Wen notes that most houses traditionally have light or dark roofs, depending on their geographic location. People who live in warm locations typically have white roofs (think of those Grecian islands) to reflect the sun’s heat and help keep the homes cool. Colder places typically have houses with darker roofs to absorb heat in the winter and warm the home. But what about those people who live in regions that have both punishingly hot summers and frigid winters? For them, Wen set out to make a roof coating that changes function with the seasons.