Thermeleon’s Marvelous Metamorphosis: Black and White Make Green!

Thermeleon—a new company that’s a brain child of a group of MIT scientists, no less—has chosen for its mascot a rather dashing looking green chameleon. Now, I know there’s nothing particularly spectacular vis a vis the chosen hue (the chipper little and very green Cockney Geico Gekko has made adorable reptiles common fodder), but the color as metaphor is particularly resonant with Thermeleon’s flagship product, a “thermally responsive roofing system” made of a phase-changing polymer gel. It’s a novel solution to heat-guzzling black roof tiles; an exterior skin that works with rather than against the powerful constraint of the sun; a thermochromic composite that changes color to absorb or deflect the sun, depending on the ambient air temp.

Thermally responsive roofing system. Designed by Thermeleon.

This last point is important since, while you might appreciate a dark roof’s tendency to trap heat in January (especially in frigid Buffalo), you rather dislike the very same behavior come the dead heat of July (especially in muggy Buffalo). Thermeleon’s response is a patent-pending product whose secret is a dissolving polymer solution that reacts to the sun. When the ferocious rays beat down upon it, the solution condenses to form a light-scattering bright white shield; in cooler weather, the same molecules become transparent, a metamorphosis that allows the dark backing shield to show in all its sun-conserving splendor. The result is a product that repels heat when it’s hot, yet stores it when it’s cold. Sounds like the right idea to me.


MIT campus. Home to the Thermeleon design team.

But—as a denizen of sunny Colorado, one of the trio of states whose inhabitants frequently enjoy extremely bright sun while simultaneously enduring extremely frigid temps—I must inquire: which shade shows if it’s bright and blue yet 20 below? Here’s hoping—for the sake of fingertips across the Rockies—It’s the dark one.

Via Fast Company

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