New AC Materials Could Cut Energy Consumption by 90%

Energy efficient air conditioning is within sight

The Guardian, October 2, 2014

If we are going to get global consumption of power on to a much more efficient basis, one of the challenges is air conditioning. Could we find a breakthrough that would cut 90% of the electricity required for space cooling?

Air conditioners in use today work on the same principle as refrigerators, but instead of dumping the heat into the room (which is what happens at the back of a refrigerator) it is sent outdoors. Air conditioners use a lot of electricity because they involve repeated cycles of compressing a gas to a liquid, and that consumes power. In Singapore – a small, hot, developed country – about 30% of household power is used for air conditioning, and in commercial buildings it is 40%.

Because much global economic development has happened, and will happen, in hot climates, the demand for air conditioning can be expected to increase markedly over the coming decade. There is a need for a much more energy efficient way to accomplish space cooling. The simplest thing to do is to refrain from excessively air conditioning a work or living space. A few degrees higher setting of the thermostat in those chilly restaurants, hotels, homes and offices would go a long way to saving energy.

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