Radiative cooling resource maps for the contiguous United States


Passive cooling devices take advantage of the partially transparent properties of the atmosphere in the longwave spectral band from 8 to 13 um (the so-called “atmospheric window”) to reject radiation to outer space. Spectrally designed thermophotonic devices have raised substantial attention recently for their potential to provide passive and carbon-free alternatives to air conditioning. However, the level of transparency of the atmospheric window depends on the local content of water vapor in the atmosphere and on the optical depth of clouds in the local sky. Thus, the radiative cooling capacity of solar reflectors not only depends on the optical properties of their surfaces but also on local meteorological conditions. In this work, detailed radiative cooling resource maps for the contiguous United States are presented with the goal of determining the best climates for large-scale deployment of passive radiative cooling technologies. The passive cooling potential is estimated based on ideal optical properties, i.e., zero shortwave absorptance (maximum reflectance) and blackbody longwave emittance. Both annual and season-averaged maps are presented. Daytime and nighttime cooling potential are also computed and compared. The annual average cooling potential over the contiguous United States is 50.5 Wm-2. The southwestern United States has the highest annual averaged cooling potential, over 70 Wm-2, due to its dry and mostly clear sky meteorological conditions. The southeastern United States has the lowest potential, around 30 Wm-2, due to frequent humid and/or overcast weather conditions. In the spring and fall months, the Arizona and New Mexico climates provide the highest passive cooling potential, while in the summer months, Nevada and Utah exhibit higher potentials.Passive radiative cooling is primarily effective in the western United States, while it is mostly ineffective in humid and overcast climates elsewhere.

Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy