Cool it! Sun?s heat is deflected by glass microspheres


"Hyperglass" is a paint that lowers the heat absorbed from the sun. Typically applied to the roof of a building, it keeps the surface around 40-60 degrees less than that of an asphalt roof, using ambient air as a guideline.

Ronald SavinThe formula was developed by Ronald R. Savin, who holds multiple patents. His Hyperglass is the first paint formulated with hollow glass ?microspheres? suspended in a specialized white Teflon paint. This product won him yet another patent. His idea is timely, since a Nobel Prize winner in physics, the US Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, would like to see all roofs painted white to promote energy savings. Less energy consumption by air conditioners is a good thing. Using white to deflect light, as well as the sun?s heat, is not new. Think little square whitewashed houses perched above the Aegean Sea. 

Savin, however resides in the hot desert town of Thousand Palms in California. He is a US Air Force retired Colonel who holds degrees in literature, as well as chemistry. He graduated from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 1976, and is a chemical engineer who specialized in corrosives.

His U.S. Pat. No. 5,252,632 relates specifically to corrosion, but apparently was a precursor to the use of microspheres as a heat deflector. The patent was issued to Savin for the use of uncoated hollow glass spheres as filler. That invention was to ?provide an improved zinc cathodic coating utilizing ceramic microspheres as filler to reduce the amount of zinc without lessening the conductivity necessary to prevent corrosion.? The microspheres measured 150 microns across, small, but with a great future.

Necessity is the mother of invention and Col. Savin?s idea germinated from sweltering in the discomfort of his own home in the hot Southern California climate. Building on his previous inventions, he came up with a paint mixture to substantially cool his own roof and patio that would meet California?s high environmental standards. Hyperglass is non-toxic material, and can be cleaned up with soap and water.

A primer, Hyperflex, adds to the heat-reducing and environmentally significant effect by adding an insulating layer made with powdered recycled rubber. Where does the rubber come from? Tires discarded by the nation?s automobile enthusiasts.

Plus, Col. Savin?s zinc-infused paint, Hyperzinc, and Hyperglass, along with Hyperflex significantly cool surfaces in the desert, seal water out, and galvanize rust. You can read more about Savin, now 82 years old, and energy saving ideas in the LA Times business section.