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2011 Archives

Car Color Can Affect Heat's Impact


The following is from the August 3, 2011, edition of The 33 News. José Lage, a professor of mechanical engineering in SMU's Lyle School of Engineering, provided expertise for this story.

August 8, 2011

While Dallas temperatures approach 110 degrees, some residents are paying more attention to the colors they wear.

Andrew Montelongo said, "On the darker-colored cars, it's hotter. The lighter the color…, the cooler it is."

Using a gunlike device called a pyrometer to measure surface temperatures, Montelongo's white truck was almost 50 degrees cooler than a nearby black truck. The surface of some dark colored vehichles even reached 176 degrees Wednesday. Dallas residents were shocked at the high triple digits, and SMU Mechanical Engineering Professor José Lage said the surface temperatures of these vehicles are so high because of thermal conductivity.

Lage said these temperatures can catch many people off guard. "I've seen people getting their legs burned just because they wouldn't consider it being that hot and they'll sit very quickly...."

Lage suggests parking in a shady area and using aluminum foil or a mirror to reflect some of the radiation that can enter vehicles sitting outside during times of intense heat.

See the video report.


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