With laboratory tests starting in 2022 at the University of Leeds, UK, Pirta’s unique paint formula was later shipped to India for further test work under the guidance of Professor P.R. Biju, within the University’s School of Pure and Applied Physics.
South Asian field tests demonstrated a decrease in temperature of up to 7°C compared to standard cooling paints currently available in the market.
Father and son founding partners, Howard and Robert Atkin, have since partnered with US-based Venture Accelerator firm Apater Labs to harness the paint formula’s immense commercial potential.
“We’ve been fortunate to work on several projects with Leeds University and their resident expert in Functional Materials, Professor Gin Jose,” said the younger Atkin. “This has enabled us to conduct rigorous tests using some of the most sophisticated equipment in the UK. Through Professor Jose’s connections we have been able to extend our outdoor product testing programme overseas in India.
"Ironically, when we initially exported the data logging system and paint samples to the team in Kerala, they were unable to conduct tests for several months due to unseasonable monsoons caused by global warming.
"However, when the weather cleared, multiple tests were performed under intense natural sunlight in conjunction with a range of generic solar reflective paints, demonstrating Pirta’s enhanced cooling capability. Independent, robust testing of this kind through respected third parties and leading institutions is essential for building credibility and trust in our products.”
In March 2023, the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) announced certain regions of the southern part of the state recorded a Heat Index of more than 54°C. Heat index is a pointer towards the heat experienced with the combined effect of atmospheric temperature and humidity to create a 'feels like’ temperature in order to issue public health warnings.
More broadly, India recorded a 55% rise in deaths due to extreme heat when comparing the years 2000-2004 and 2017-2021, according to a study published in the medical journal, The Lancet. It further reported that exposure to heat caused a loss of 167.2 billion potential labour hours among Indians in 2021, resulting in loss of incomes equivalent to about 5.4% of the country's GDP.
Atkin said the Harrogate-based business is now planning to accelerate its testing programme across the UK, USA, Caribbean, Africa and Far East, with projects under consideration in Miami, Phoenix, Barbados, Singapore and Ghana.
“The world is desperately in need of more solutions to mitigate the heat crisis and reduce over-reliance on energy-dependent cooling systems,” he said. “Through its ingenious passive-cooling paint formula, Pirta has developed a solution which will enable global communities to take rapid action. Our testing journey has gone from solar simulators and labs in the UK to field tests in India. We look forward to accelerating this testing work in mixed settings - including agricultural, industrial and housing sites - in order to get the product to market in the safest and most efficient manner. ”
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).