Improved Air Conditioner Beams Heat Into Space


Air conditioner suck up a lot of energy in hotter months by dumping heat from inside buildings to the outside, ironically heating up neighbouring locations. A Stanford research team developed a more efficient cooling system for AC by pre-cooling water that circulates through the machine. It cools water during the night by essentially beaming the eat out into space, which surprisingly uses less energy than current solutions.

For the new fluid-cooling system, the researchers made radiative panels that were each one-third of a square meter in area; they attached the panels to an aluminum heat exchanger plate with copper pipes embedded in it. The setup was enclosed in an acrylic box covered with a plastic sheet.

The team tested it on a rootop on the Stanford campus. Over three days of testing, they found that water temperatures went down by between 3- and 5 °C. The only electricity it requires is what’s needed to pump water through the copper pipes. Water that flowed more slowly was cooled more.

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A Solar Structure That Cools in the Sun

Keeping buildings cool in the summer is hard enough as it is and we have access to air conditioning technologies. Now, there’s a better way to keep buildings, cars, and whatnot thanks to some research out of Stanford University. Their new approach to cooling entire structures doesn’t require electricity and means that air conditioners won’t be needed and thus a huge decrease in energy consumption can be achieved.

A team of researchers at Stanford has designed an entirely new form of cooling structure that cools even when the sun is shining. Such a structure could vastly improve the daylight cooling of buildings, cars and other structures by reflecting sunlight back into the chilly vacuum of space.

“We’ve taken a very different approach compared to previous efforts in this field,” said Aaswath Raman, a doctoral candidate in Fan’s lab and a co-first-author of the paper. “We combine the thermal emitter and solar reflector into one device, making it both higher performance and much more robust and practically relevant. In particular, we’re very excited because this design makes viable both industrial-scale and off-grid applications.”

Read more from the press release.

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