One of the simplest climate change geoengineering solutions we’ve seen is the white roof, which naturally reflects sunlight back into space and keeps buildings cool. Energy Secretary Steven Chu even went so far as to say recently that slathering our pavements and roofs in white paint might offset 44 billion tons of CO2, or the equivalent of taking all vehicles off the planet’s roads for 11 years. But a research and development company called United Environment and Energy thinks there is a better solution: smart roof shingles coated in waste-oil based polymers.
The liquid polymer, developed with funding from the Department of Energy, is made from fast food waste oil that turns into a sort of plastic when applied to roofs. Like white paint, the polymer reflects sunlight in warm weather, but it has the added bonus of absorbing heat in cold weather. In testing, the polymer showed a decreased roof temperatures between 50% and 80% in hot
weather compared to normal asphalt shingles along with a 80% increase in temperature in cold weather. It has all the benefits of white paint, in other words, with none of the drawbacks.
Don’t worry–the polymer won’t make your roof smell like french fries. But it might piss off diesel devotees who rely on waste cooking oil from restaurants to power their vehicles. We’d rather see the cooking oil end up on our roofs, though. Let diesel drivers switch to electric.