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A sustainable white paint with lower carbon footprint!

ANI | Updated: Aug 29, 2019 18:31 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Aug 29 (ANI): White Beetles might be tiny in their size but their structure could hold the key to making bright-white sustainable paint.
This paint not only has a lower carbon footprint but helps in tacking the challenge of recycling single-use plastics.
A new study published in the journal 'Nature Communications Chemistry' has discovered that the structure of ultra-white beetle's scales could be used in the making of bright-white sustainable paint using recycled plastic waste.
Cyphochilus beetle scales are one of the brightest whites in nature and their ultra-white appearance is created by the nanostructure in their tiny scales, as opposed to the use of pigment or dyes.
Experts now are able to recreate and improve this structure in the lab using low-cost materials - via a technique that could be used as a sustainable alternative to titanium dioxide in white paint.
"In the natural world, whiteness is usually created by a foamy, Swiss cheese-like structure made of a solid interconnected network and air," said lead author, Dr. Andrew Parnell, University of Sheffield's Department of Physics and Astronomy.
"Having understood these structures we were able to take plastic and structure it in the same way. Ideally, we could recycle plastic waste that would normally be burnt or sent to landfill, structure it just like the beetle scale and then use it to make super white paint," the researcher added.
Not only this paint would have a much lower carbon footprint but help in tackling the challenge of recycling single-use plastics.
The findings show that the foamy structure of the beetles' scales had the right proportion of empty spaces, which optimise the scattering of light - creating the ultra-white colouring.
Conventional white paint contains nanoparticles of titanium dioxide, which scatter light very strongly. However, the use of titanium dioxide is harmful to the environment as it contributes to nearly 75 per cent of the carbon footprint of each tin of paint that is produced.
Researchers in this study used a technique called X-ray tomography, which is similar to a CT scan but on a minuscule scale. The scientists used the X-ray imaging facilities at the instrument ID16B at the European Synchrotron Research Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France.
The intense X-ray source at the ESRF meant whole intact scales could be measured, which was pivotal to understanding them and modelling how they scatter light. (ANI)

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