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Heat Reflective Colorants

Bart A. Wilbanks


Dark surfaces heat up more than light surfaces1 because they absorb the incoming sunlight and convert it into heat, while light surfaces reflect most of the incoming light. Infrared (IR) light is largely responsible for heat build-up. Both ultraviolet (UV) light and IR light are invisible to the human eye and have no effect on color shade. Two objects can be identical in visible color, yet have different reflective characteristics in the near infrared region (700- 2500 nm) so that one remains cooler on exposure to sunlight. The primary function of infrared reflective pigments is to keep objects cooler than they would be using standard pigments. There are several factors that can affect the colorant’s infrared reflectivity such as: individual pigment selection, dispersion, particle size and mixing infrared reflective pigments. These factors are controlled in the manufacturing process of heat reflective colorants, allowing paint manufacturers to realize the benefit of these heat-reflecting pigments without the burden of controlling the critical process parameters. For this reason, heat reflective colorants offer unique advantages over heat reflective pigments.

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