Nathan Godsey, Conrad Cao, Laiku Layaoen, Pono Gifford
What is the problem your team addressed for this challenge and how is it related to climate change?
Over one billion people around the world live in deserts, the hottest places on earth. The average temperature of the largest desert, the Sahara; is an average 104 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. Sometimes peaking at up to 120 °F. If climate change continues at the same rate, by 2050 the average summer temperature will be 110 °F. That is 6° hotter than life threatening internal body temperature in a human. Without access to electricity and therefore no air conditioning the deserts could become uninhabitable. The billion people living there need our help, and the SunTile will provide it.
What does your design solution do? How does it solve or improve the problem you selected?
The sun tile is a hexagonal tile that reflects light using total internal reflection. The sun is the provider of all heat on this earth, and if its rays are reflected, it will keep the area substantially cooler. The SunTile is also covered in tiny grooves. The grooves channel air protecting the tile from erosion. When we put these two together we get the perfect desert roofing tile. The SunTile is hexagonally shaped, covered in tiny grooves and a mesh of prisms mimicking the Saharan Silver ant, so the SunTile both cools the house and protects it from erosion.
How was your solution inspired by nature? What organisms did you learn from and how did what you learned inform your design?
The SunTile is a hexagonal tile, like honeycomb. We made our tile hexagonal because hexagons spread weight evenly. The SunTile is covered in tiny grooves used by the desert scorpion to deflect sand particles. We have incorporated this into the design because as global warming progresses weather patterns will change and storms become more common, sandstorms could erode the tile decreasing its usefulness. The most prominent part of the SunTile are the tiny prisms inspired by the silver ant. These prisms will reflect light using total internal reflection protecting desert dwellers homes from the heat of the sun.