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MADMEC winner identifies sustainable greenhouse-cooling materials

The winners of this year’s MADMEC competition identified a class of materials that could offer a more efficient way to keep greenhouses cool. After Covid-19 put the materials science competition on pause for two years, SmartClime, a team made up of three MIT graduate students, took home the first-place prize, $10,000.

The team showed that a type of material that changes color in response to an electric voltage could reduce energy usage and save money if coated onto the panes of glass in greenhouses.

“This project came out of our love of gardening,” said SmartClime team member and Ph.D. candidate Isabella Caruso in the winning presentation. “Greenhouses let you grow things year-round, even in New England, but even greenhouse pros need to use heating furnaces in the winter and ventilation in the summer. All of that can be very labor- and energy-intensive.”

Current options to keep greenhouses cool include traditional air conditioning units, venting and fans, and simple cloth. To develop a better solution, the team looked through scientific papers to find materials with the right climate control properties.

Two classes of materials that looked promising were thermochromic coatings, which change color based on temperature, and electrochromic solutions, which change color based on electric voltage.

Read the complete article at www.indiaeducationdiary.in.


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