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Assessing the retroreflectivity of white HDPE sprinkled roof sheets in a tropical climate

Student(s):Dannet Alcalde Carlos Manuel Eusoya Megan Marie Sio Vinna Tupas Eira Mae Benita Young Erin Rose Benita Young
Grade Level:Secondary School (grades 9-12, ages 14-18)
GLOBE Teacher:Aris Larroder
Report Type(s):International Virtual Science Symposium Report
Protocols:Clouds, Surface Temperature
Presentation Poster: View Document
Optional Badges:Be a Data Scientist, Be an Engineer, Be a STEM Professional
Date Submitted:03/11/2022
The warming effect of climate change, known as Urban Heat Island (UHI), led to a higher demand for polluting air conditioners. A potential alternative to cooling technologies are retroreflectors capable of lowering temperatures by retroreflecting solar radiation. High-density polyethylene (HDPE) microplastics are waste polymers that contribute to climate change. However, recycling HDPE plastics to produce retroreflectors shows promise, as HDPE shares similar properties with known retroreflectors. In this study, the retroreflectivity properties of HDPE was assessed by applying the HDPE microplastics to roof sheets. The sheets’ surface temperature was measured from 10 AM to 4 PM, and the albedo values were measured on solar noon. The study aimed to address climate change by: (1) finding an alternative to polluting air conditioning systems, and (2) recycling waste HDPE. Results revealed that the surface temperatures of HDPE-applied roof sheets were higher than sheets without HDPE. The albedo values between the samples were also not statistically significant. This means that HDPE does not act as a retroreflector; instead, the plastics act as absorbers of solar radiation, which increase temperature. Thus, future studies may consider using our findings to test HDPE plastics as alternatives to heating technologies instead of cooling technologies, as both deposit greenhouse gases and contribute to climate change anyways.