Photonic Cooling – Efficient cooling of buildings through the use of photonic

Within the scope of the project a photonic cooling approach is investigated and evaluated in terms of feasibility and cost efficiency for building applications. In particular cost-efficient photonic surfaces and concepts are investigated which need to have a high reflectivity for solar radiation (>97%) and a high emission coefficient in the IR spectral range in order to enable the emission of heat into the sky. By means of photonic cooling concepts, approaches for the climatisation of buildings are developed and potential reductions of cooling power are calculated.

Short Description

Moreover potential mitigation effects of the photonic cooling approach on the overheating of cities are modelled. The main aim of the project is to create knowledge on the feasibility of photonic cooling approaches for climatisation applications and whether the approach can contribute to a higher quality of life in cities of tomorrow.

Starting point / motivation

In the wake of climate change and the rising number of heat islands in urban landscapes, energy expenses for air conditioning, especially during the summer, will increase dramatically.

The waste heat produced by additionally required air conditioners will worsen the micro climate as well, thereby negatively affecting our health and quality of life. Innovative means of cooling without the need for electrical power might be a way to lower the costs for cooling.

In this context, the aim of the proposed project is to evaluate the aptitude of the Photonic Cooling technology to contribute to the reduction of urban heat islands and air conditioning power consumption.

Contents and Goals

Within the applied approach, additional radiation cooling shall be used especially on sunny and clear days. Daytime radiation cooling is challenging, because generally more heat is absorbed through solar irradiation and heat transfer from the ambient air than radiated off into space.

Employing outer space as a cooling reservoir for daytime building cooling might therefore be considered a crazy idea. Even though the basic approach of radiation cooling has been pursued for quite some time, only now has the experimental implementation of devices with substantial cooling power been successful. This can be attributed to recent and ongoing advancements in fabrication technologies and expanding know-how of the physics behind (nano-) optical and photonic structures.


There are still many open questions with respect to the realization of such devices: For instance, cost efficient fabrication techniques for the required surface coatings need to be found; intelligent and working concepts for the integration of the cooling devices into a building architecture must be developed; and proof is required for the claim that photonic cooling can provide appreciable cooling power and that it might contribute to a reduction of urban heating islands.

Excpected Results

The subjects mentioned above are addressed by the proposed project at hand, which will evaluate the potential and ways for the implementation of the photonic cooling approach. Considering all this, the proposed project bears great potential to provide a substantial contribution to the achievement of the current call's operative program targets, by supporting urban development with the emphasis on resource- and energy-efficiency, quality of life, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Project Partners

Project management

JOANNEUM RESEARCH Forschungsgesellschaft mbH

Project or cooperation partners

Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik

Contact Address

Dr Gerhard Peharz
Franz-Pichler-Strasse 30
Tel.: +43 (316) 876 3205

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