August 18, 2022
Climate Change: Concerns about climate change, Bill Gates bets on new AC

Lucknow: With the increasing summer, the use of air conditioners is increasing. But the problem is that our AC technology is old and the problem related to it is actually twofold. Air conditioners consume a lot of electricity and emit greenhouse gases like hydrofluorocarbons and carbon dioxide. This is a major factor in climate change.

In such a situation, a company called Blue Frontier has come up with an encouraging solution. The results of Blue Frontier’s clean air conditioning system are so promising that the company has received a major funding round from Bill Gates. Blue Frontier is a Florida-based startup in the US focusing on engineering the next generation of air conditioning systems.

The company claims that their new technology can reduce energy consumption by up to 90 percent. The figure is so promising that Blue Frontier has received $20 million from Bill Gates’ clean investment fund Breakthrough Energy Ventures. For now, Blue Frontier is focusing on non-residential buildings and new buildings that can have its rooftop AC unit. It is not yet known whether this technology can be used as a window unit in an apartment.

use of salt for cooling

Its process has been explained in a report on the company’s website. Blue Frontier says that salt is used for cooling. This salt solution is highly concentrated by means of a heat pump that evaporates the water inside it. It is sealed from the atmosphere until air conditioning is needed. When the concentrated solution comes into contact with air, it absorbs water vapor and dries the air. It then reduces the air temperature through indirect evaporative cooling.

Researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the International Energy Agency, and the Rocky Mountain Institute have concluded that room air conditioners alone – from now to 2050 – will be responsible for more than 130 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. This would account for 20-40 per cent of the world’s remaining “carbon budget”.

RMI research shows that radical reforms to tackle climate change are possible. The compressor technology at the heart of most AC units has barely reached 14 per cent of its theoretical maximum efficiency.

A handful of large existing manufacturers dominate the AC industry

In comparison, solar panels reach 40 percent of their theoretical efficiency potential. LED lighting reaches up to 70 percent. The AC industry is dominated by a handful of large existing manufacturers who are acting only according to the current regulatory and market signals. Consumers care about price, brand, and looks more than anything else, and regulators have failed to apply more pressure with regard to efficiency standards.

As a result, AC companies typically spend more on advertising and aesthetics than on research and development. Companies focus on units with as low efficiency as possible.

Traditional air conditioner technology uses a vapor compression cycle to cool the air. Refrigerant is used for cooling in that system. Chlorofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons used to be part of the most common refrigerants in air conditioners, but those chemicals deplete the ozone layer and are being phased out. There are some alternatives that do not damage the ozone layer, but they still have a high global warming potential.

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