Fryer grease becomes a coating to save energy
It has been known to the science community for a while now that old fryer grease, collected from restaurants, can be turned into alternative fuel. But what else does this seemingly useless waste product have in store for us? The most recent discovery helps not with cars, but potentially your roof! Yep that’s right; the grease that fried your potato skins last night could potentially become an energy-saving coating for your roof. So what is so special about grease and how does it work?
Have you ever noticed how roofs are different colors in different climates? For example, a roof in the mid-west is very different from roofs you see in Arizona or California. Places that have predominately hotter weather tend to build roofs that are lighter in color so that heat is reflected and keeps the house cool. In contrast, places where frigid temperatures are more frequent, dark roofs are built in order to absorb heat and keep a house warm. However what about those places where it gets both very hot and very cold? The solution to this problem may lie in the fryers around the world.
The idea was presented by Ben Wen during a meeting of the American Chemical Society. Ben says that waste oil from fryers can be turned into a high-tech polymer that can react to current weather conditions. This could change the way roofs are build all around the world, especially for those who see all four seasons. First, fast food oil waste is processed into a liquid polymer and then, is applied to the area. The great thing about this roof covering is it can be applied to any kind of roof. After it is applied the liquid polymer then hardens into a plastic. At a certain temperature this roof covering will undergo a “phase change,” and switches from heat-absorbing to heat-reflecting or vice versa. After being tested, results showed that this new roof covering had a decrease in temperature between 50 and 80 percent during hot weather compared to those roofs made of asphalt, and an increase in temperature during the winter months.
Not only is this new discovery non-toxic, non-flammable and odorless but it provides a whole new way to re-use and re-cycle all of the millions of gallons of waste oil. Although testing has been done, more are on the way and experts say that this roof covering could be ready for consumer use within the next year or so.
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