Radiative Coolers for Rooftops and Cars

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OPEN 2012
Stanford, California
Project Term:
02/20/2013 - 03/19/2018

Critical Need:

New and more efficient cooling methods are needed to reduce building energy consumption and environmental impact. Residential and commercial buildings currently account for nearly 75% of the nation's electricity use, the vast majority of which comes from coal-fired power plants that produce harmful carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The demand for air conditioning in homes and buildings is increasing each year, so new and substantially more efficient cooling methods are needed to reduce energy consumption and environmental impact going forward.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Stanford University is developing a device for the rooftops of buildings and cars that will reflect sunlight and emit heat, enabling passive cooling, even when the sun is shining. This device requires no electricity or fuel and would reduce the need for air conditioning, leading to energy and cost savings. Stanford’s technology relies on recently developed state-of-the-art concepts and techniques to tailor the absorption and emission of light and heat in nanostructured materials. This project could enable buildings, cars, and electronics to cool without using electric power.

Potential Impact:

If successful, Stanford’s radiative coolers would improve the energy efficiency of buildings and vehicles, save consumers money, and reduce peak-power demand.


Reducing building cooling loads reduces pressure on the electrical grid, improving its stability.


Better building efficiency and cooling devices would limit electricity consumption and reduce CO2 emissions.


Improvements in heating and cooling efficiency could save homeowners and businesses thousands of dollars on their utility bills.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Christopher Atkinson
Project Contact:
Dr. Shanhui Fan
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Project Contact Email:

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