85% of homes in the United States consume about 5% of the energy in the U.S. On the hottest days, it peaks even higher potentially causing brownouts or blackouts. Along with the exaggerated use of electricity, these air conditioning units use refrigerants that are toxic to the environment. Some refrigerants are being phased out as they are causing too much harm to the ozone layer; however, these are still greenhouse gases that are more potent than CO2.
With this in mind, people have begun to invent new concepts to help cool the air without harmful chemicals or massive use of energy.
Shape Memory Alloy
Researchers at the University of Maryland is working on using a shape memory alloy, sometimes called smart metals, to absorb heat, similar to the way refrigerants work to remove heat. This is possible due to the alloy’s ability to return to its original shape after it has been heated after they have been deformed. These types of alloys are made from metals such as nickel, titanium, zinc, aluminum, and copper.
Researchers at Pennsylvania State University have used sound waves to cool a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream freezer. This method called thermoacoustics takes advantage of the relationship between pressure and temperature to produce heat with a gas – helium. A loudspeaker turns electricity into sound waves and bounces it inside a chamber. Inside, gas moves back and forth causing it to expand and compress. Gas is absorbed when it compresses and released when it expands.
New Evaporative Coolers
Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has developed a new evaporative cooler that combines the properties of water-resistant membranes and a desiccant, which absorbs moisture from the air. This newly built device produces cool, dry air, without the use of refrigerants. This system called Desiccant-Enhanced Evaporative air conditioner or DEVap will eventually be brought up to commercial manufacturers to bring the product to the market.
Magnetic Air Conditioning
Magnetic materials heat up when they are exposed to a magnetic field and cools down when the field is removed. This observation is called magnetocaloric effect. What researchers are attempting to do is use these magnets to cool the air by quickly and repeatedly exposing a magnetocaloric material to a magnetic field. This alloy acts as a refrigerant and water is used to provide the heat transfer, eliminating the need for environmentally harmful chemicals.
Here at California Air, we provide you with not only HVAC services but also up-to-date information about trending topics and helpful HVAC articles. We try to keep the community updated with what we do and what we hear. The more our community knows about our field and the world, the more we can relate.
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