Semiahmoo Secondary student Hugo Yin, centre, and his teammates won five awards at the SHAD innovators competition. (Contributed photo)

British Columbia student invents colour-changing roof shingles

Product to reduce energy footprint

Semiahmoo Secondary Grade 12 student Hugo Yin, from Surrey, and his teammates swept the competition at the SHAD John Dobson Entrepreneurship Cup for creating a roof shingle that is designed to trap, or repel heat depending on the season.

Named ‘Kameleon,’ the colour-changing technology turns the shingles white when it’s warm outside, to reflect sunlight, and black when it’s cold outside, to absorb heat.

Essentially, it’s a colour-changing paint that can be applied to roof shingles.

The group received five awards at the Ryerson University event in Toronto Oct. 26, including best application of theme, best application of scientific principles, best business plan, best prototype and SHAD Innovators of the Year.

“It was quite unbelievable,” Yin told Peace Arch News Saturday morning.

He said his group felt there was a good chance they would win an award, but they didn’t expect to win five. His group, he said, was tipped off by a judge before the competition started.

“They said our plan was way beyond high school level, so we were confident we were going to win something,” Yin said.

In the process of researching colour-changing chemicals, Yin and his group found leuco dye, which becomes transparent when temperatures are warmer than 20C.

The group applied the chemical to the shingles just like any other paint.

“The first layer, at the bottom, is a white paint – a normal white pain. Above the white paint is the leuco dye… the third layer is a protective layer.”

When temperatures are below 20 degrees, leuco dye is a black colour.

His group was part of the SHAD cohort at Carleton University in Ottawa. The students were challenged to create and pitch an entrepreneurial solution to help Canadians reduce their energy footprint.

Their design, Yin said, could reduce the cost to heat a home.

Yin said the SHAD event was a good opportunity to learn about post-secondary education. Following high school, he attends to study applied mathematics and computer science.

The SHAD program, based out of Waterloo, Ont., is open to students from Grades 10-12. According to SHAD, the month-long program is held at one of 16 partner universities in Canada. There, the students apply STEM (science-tech-engineering-arts-math) disciplines to real-life public policy and entrepreneurial challenges.

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