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Future Air Conditioners

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Future Air Conditioners

There are a couple of very promising technological solutions to the standard air conditioner - DEVap and Solar Air Conditioners. Both of these technologies show promise for reducing the cost to run your air conditioner, though the initial cost to purchase one, may remain the same.

DEVap

DEVap Air Conditioner

Scientists at the US's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have created a method of air conditioning that could reduce the operating cost (electricity bill) by up to 90%.

The technology called desiccant-enhanced evaporative air conditioner or DEVap, uses environmentally friendly saline solution rather than conventional refrigerants, and a thin membrane, to achieve the cost reduction.

The present demonstration units are about the same size and cost as a conventional air conditioning unit, though the NREL is working to make them smaller and cheaper. Eventually, NREL will license the technology to industry, "We're never going to be in the air conditioner manufacturing business", said Ron Judkoff, Principle Program Manager for Building Energy Research at NREL. "But we'd like to work with manufacturers to bring DEVap to market and create a more efficient and environmentally benign air conditioning product."

 

Solar Thermal Air Conditioning

Solar air conditioning is another technology that's been considered for several years, but is just now becoming ready for primetime. One advantage of solar thermal energy, it can be used to efficiently cool in the summer and also heat domestic hot water and buildings in the winter. On the down side, it doesn't provide continued air cooling into the evening, once the sun is down.

With a solar thermal air conditioner, the solar heat is used to heat one end of the system of expansion/condensation pipes and the other end gets cold enough to make ice.

Large industrial demonstration units have been in operation for a couple of years. We're still waiting for residential solar thermal air conditioning systems.

NOTE: several "Solar Air Conditioners" are advertised on the internet and elsewhere. Most of these units are using Solar Photovoltaic panels to power a conventional air conditioner. Using electricity generated from a Solar PV module, does NOT make a conventional air conditioner, a "Solar Air Conditioner".

 

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