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The “World’s Whitest Paint” Just Won a SXSW Innovation Award

Climate change is a growing concern, and that’s why a team of researchers at Purdue University has developed the world’s whitest paint.

Since 1981, our planet’s combined land and water temperatures have risen an average of 0.32 degrees per decade, and this is one reason why scientists around the world are constantly looking for energy-saving innovations. A team of Purdue University researchers has developed an award-winning product that has the potential to reduce electricity use to solve global warming. So what is the miraculous invention? Believe it or not, it’s paint. But not just any paint—this stuff holds the official Guinness World Record for being the whitest paint on Earth.

What is the “world’s whitest paint”?

The world’s whitest paint is paint that is so white that it reflects away 98.1% of the sun’s energy, leading to much less heat absorption than normal paint, and cooler temperatures beneath the paint surface Is. Developed by Shiulin Ruan, a mechanical engineering professor with a team of Purdue University researchers, the paint reduces interior temperatures by 8 to 10 degrees compared to the same type of space with regular paint.

What kind of award did this paint win?

Courtesy Christy McCarter/Purdue University Professor Shiulin Ruan presents to SXSW attendees during the Innovation Awards Finalist Showcase in Austin, Texas. (Purdue University / Christy McCarter)

The paint developed by Ruan and his team has won the South by Southwest Conference & Festivals (SXSW) 2023 Innovation Award in the Sustainability category. The award honors the most exciting creative innovations around the world.

How does “the world’s whitest paint” work?

Unlike standard paint, the world’s whitest paint hardly absorbs any of the sun’s heat. This results in much cooler surfaces and less need for air conditioning. First developed in 2021 based on research from the 1970s, the whiteness of paint is largely due to its high concentration of barium sulfate. Ruan and his team, testing the paint on a 1,000-square-foot ceiling, found that it provided 10 kW of cooling power—more energy than most household air conditioners. Use,

Since inventing the paint, Ruan’s team has tweaked the original formula to reduce the thickness of the paint from 0.4 millimeters to just 0.15. This change also reduced the weight of the paint by 80%.


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