Author(s): Christa Lesté-Lasserre

Self-cooling artificial grass could help cities handle extreme weather

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An artificial sports pitch that absorbs rainwater and lets it evaporate on hot days stays much cooler than ordinary fake grass. The self-cooling turf could protect athletes from burns and heat exhaustion while helping cities manage storm waters.


Many cities and sports facilities install artificial turf playing fields because excessive use destroys natural grass turfs, says van Huijgevoort. Even in temperate climates like northern Europe, solar heat can warm the plastic turf surfaces to around 70°C (158°F), which endangers athletes’ health and warms urban air – a situation that will only get worse with global warming, she says.


The system is based on a design in which the rate of water rising and the evaporative cooling process depends on various natural factors such as weather conditions. “So water only evaporates when there is demand for cooling,” says van Huijgevoort.

The reservoirs under the turf can hold about 512,000 litres of rainwater under a standard football pitch measuring 100 metres by 64 metres, she says. The capillaries in the shock pad could hold an additional 96,000 litres. That means the fields should help soak up large volumes of water during storms, says van Huijgevoort.

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