The Phononic solid state heating and cooling revolution is almost here
Treehugger, May 9, 2016
In 2014 TreeHugger covered Phononic and its solid state cooling devices, suggesting that we may be on the verge of a cooling revolution. These were devices that they believed could actually replace compressor technologies in our fridges and our air conditioners. In an interview with CEO Tony Atti, we learned what has happened since; He told us that “they had an opportunity to demonstrate products that the market didn’t believe could be done, or quite frankly hadn’t even thought of.” They have now set up separate units for electronics and refrigeration and have established teams of engineers to work with clients, to teach them how to adapt the solid state technologies to their products.
Solid state cooling devices have been around for centuries, since the Peltier effect was discovered. They are often used in CPU coolers and even tiny iceboxes, but are not very efficient. Phononic has significantly improved on them; as can be seen in the video of their little fridge below, they have integrated the basic chip with heat transfer systems that appear to make it work better.
Similarly, Phononic is now working with the world’s largest appliance maker, Haier, starting with high performance wine chillers, delivering smaller units with more accurate temperature control and lower power consumption. They are now branching into residential refrigerators in Europe and Asia, (where we have noted that small fridges make good cities). With Haier’s acquisition of GE’s appliance division, no doubt totally silent fridges without compressors will be arriving here soon too.
Phononic writes on their blog that we can expect solid state “refrigeration and climate control systems will begin to emerge in 2016.”
On their blog, (and at the top of this post) Phononic shows a house where some rooms are cool, some are warm and some are neither. This is the more common way of thinking that you see with the Smart House and with smart thermostats and smart vent products that turn off rooms, adapting to heat loss and heat gain in our usual leaky, under-insulated houses. Tony Atti noted that his engineers were working on the design of systems to work with leaky houses all over America.