Eco-Friendly Passive Radiative Cooling Using Recycled Packaging Plastics: Article No. 100448

Y. Liu, X. Liu, F. Chen, Y. Tian, A. Caratenuto, Y. Mu, Shuang Cui, M. Minus, Y. Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus Citations


Passive daytime radiative cooling, requiring zero external energy consumption, is a promising cooling strategy achieved by simultaneously reflecting solar irradiance and thermally radiating heat into the cold outer space (~3 K) through the atmospheric transparency window. However, current materials for passive radiative cooling face huge challenges, such as complicated fabrication approaches, expensive raw materials, and environmental requirements for practical applications. In line with the urgent need for plastic recycling to curb global environmental pollution, the recycled plastics are used to fabricate a passive radiative cooling material. Herein, the foam-paper composite (FPC) with excellent self-cooling capability is fabricated by a simple crushing-and-mixing procedure using recycled polystyrene (PS) foam and printer paper. The superhydrophobic PS foam particles not only protect the FPC from water damage for field applications but also reinforce its solar reflectivity via their porous structure. The cellulose fibers in printer paper can efficiently emit infrared thermal radiation into the cold outer space and bond dispersed PS foam particles together, further increasing its mechanical strength. The combination of highly diffusely reflective PS foam particles and fiber-based printer paper results in a reflectivity of 96% in the solar spectrum, a sub-ambient cooling performance of 8.4 degrees C, and a maximum radiative cooling power of 90 W/m2 during a 24-h cycle. Meanwhile, the FPC with high humidity can maintain its high solar reflectivity, which promotes its application in humid subtropical areas. Furthermore, the low material cost and ease of fabrication will provide a path for effective daytime radiative cooling, especially in less developed areas.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages8
JournalMaterials Today Sustainability
StatePublished - 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-87255


  • high humidity
  • high solar reflectivity
  • low-cost and eco-friendly
  • passive daytime radiative cooling
  • recycled polystyrene foam


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