Mahatma Gandhi University: Cooling paint pilot to combat heatwaves

In Kerala, India, Mahatma Gandhi University has partnered with the climate technology company Pirta to assess the feasibility of using cooling paints as an effective strategy to mitigate the impact of heatwaves. Pirta has developed a passive-cooling paint formula that has the potential to reduce surface temperatures by a considerable 64C (114.4F) compared to standard black surfaces.

Mahatma Gandhi University: Cooling paint pilot to combat heatwaves

Image; Pirta Paint

At a glance
Mahatma Gandhi University, in collaboration with Pirta
What: Testing the ultra-cooling properties of Pirta’s paint
Where: Mahatma Gandhi University, Kerala, India
Why: To address the urgent need for heat mitigation solutions and reduce energy-dependent cooling systems
When: Laboratory tests started in the UK in 2022

The Challenge

Rising global temperatures and extreme heatwaves have become critical issues, with regions like Kerala, India, experiencing Heat Index values exceeding 54C. Such extreme heat not only poses a significant threat to public health but also results in substantial economic losses, including a 5.4% reduction in India’s GDP due to lost labour hours.

The Solution

Pirta’s paint formula offers a transformative solution to combat extreme heat. It demonstrates the potential to substantially reduce surface temperatures, providing a sustainable and effective means of cooling surfaces and spaces without relying on energy-intensive cooling systems.

Pirta’s unique paint formula has been validated by the University of Leeds following a rigorous testing process involving more than 1,000 samples over a two-year period. The provisional results reveal exceptionally high emissivity, or ability to release heat, compared to a black surface.

How the Project Works

The project began with laboratory tests at the University of Leeds, UK, in 2022, where Pirta’s unique paint formula was assessed. Subsequently, the paint was sent to Mahatma Gandhi University for field tests in the intense natural sunlight of South Asia. The tests, overseen by Professor P.R. Biju, revealed that Pirta’s paint reduced temperatures by up to 7°C compared to conventional cooling paints on the market.

Pirta has received support from a series of UK Government backed authorities, investment arms and innovation accelerators, including Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, Innovate UK Edge and the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI).

The Results

While the project is ongoing, early results indicate the cooling capabilities of Pirta’s paint, which could have a profound impact on mitigating extreme heat conditions in regions like Kerala.

Business Benefits

Pirta has partnered with Apater Labs to explore the commercial potential of their cooling paint formula. Pirta’s testing program is set to expand to various locations worldwide, including the UK, USA, Caribbean, Africa, and the Far East, with potential projects in Miami, Phoenix, Barbados, Singapore, and Ghana, reflecting the global demand for effective heat mitigation solutions and the urgency of addressing the heat crisis.


Pirta has received financial support from various UK government-backed authorities, investment arms, and innovation accelerators, underscoring the potential financial benefits of the project.

Industry Context

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), air conditioning and ventilation equipment today account for 10% of global electricity consumption.

Additionally, cooling technologies are responsible for 4%-10% of annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, underscoring the need for more low-carbon intensive cooling systems.


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