New technologies are constantly making the HVACR industry more effective and more environmentally-friendly. In this article, we dive into some fascinating new technologies, including Crytocoolers, solar thermal collectors, responsive window panels, and more, that can have a huge impact on the HVACR industry. Here at CMS Mechanical, we will continue to applaud new technologies that will usher our industry into the future.
Cooling systems today collectively account for 17 percent of the electricity used worldwide. All together, that’s 8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
“What keeps me up at night is that our energy use for cooling might grow sixfold by the year 2050, primarily driven by increasing usage in Asian and African countries,” said Aaswath Raman, a professor of materials science and engineering at UCLA. “That is, emphatically, a good thing for the health, well-being, and productivity of people living in warmer climates. However, one of the most alarming things about climate change is that the warmer our planet gets, the more we’re going to need cooling systems — systems that are themselves large emitters of greenhouse gas emissions. This then has the potential to cause a feedback loop, where cooling systems alone could become one of our biggest sources of greenhouse gases later this century.
“But this also points us to an amazing opportunity,” he continued. “A 10 or 20 percent improvement in the efficiency of every cooling system could actually have an enormous impact on our greenhouse gas emissions, both today and later this century.”
What might that look like? Below is a sampling of some of the up-and-coming technologies that could change the way HVAC looks for the next generation.
A teapot full of boiling water on the kitchen table will gradually cool down because heat is flowing from the hot water to the colder table. However, its temperature is not expected to fall below that of the table. By itself, heat can only flow from a warmer object to a colder one, not the other way around. To cool the water further, it would have to be placed in a refrigerator, which consumes energy from outside to make it work. That’s the second law of thermodynamics — one of the fundamentals of physics.
At the University of Zurich, Andreas Schilling, a professor in the department of physics, created a device that, at first glance, seems to challenge that. Researchers were able to to cool a 9-gram piece of copper from over 100°C to significantly below room temperature without an external power supply, using the Peltier element — a component often used to cool hotel minibars or CPUs in computers. The Peltier element can transform electric currents into heat currents.
“The more electric current you feed into a Peltier element, the more heat is transported from one end to the other end of the element, with the result that one end becomes cold and the other one hot,” Schilling said. “The inverse process is also possible: If there is a temperature difference between both ends of a Peltier element, an electric voltage results, and an electric current starts to flow as soon as the electric circuit is closed.”