Air conditioning eats up over 12 per cent of all electricity produced in the United States.
So when the government says it’s developed a technology that will “revolutionise” how we cool ourselves, it’s time to pay attention.
The technology is called the Desiccant-enhanced Evaporative (DEVAP) Air Conditioner.
Last week, it was named one of the 100-most important innovations of 2011 by R&D magazine:
“DEVap is novel and disruptive,“ lead engineers Eric Kozubal, Jason Woods, Jay Burch, Aaron Boranian and Tim Merrigan wrote in their paper introducing the process. “… [it] has strong potential to significantly reduce U.S. energy consumption and provide value to energy companies by reducing summertime electric power demand and resulting grid strain.”
Here’s how it works:
- Normal air conditioners work by taking in hot air (which may already be humid), condensing it to make it even more humid, drying out that air, and then blowing out the now-cooled air into the room
- But depending on how humid the air is, and how good your A/C is at dehumidifying, your A/C may have to work overtime. This is very inefficient.
- DEVAP makes the drying out process super-efficient
- It takes a liquid form of desiccant — the solid form of which are those little “do not eat” packets that come in things like shoe boxes — and combines it with a separate evaporation technology
- The evaporation technology is helpful because it eliminates the need for nasty cooling fluids. Instead, it uses water as the liquid that gets dried.
The engineers say DEVap is expected to use 40 per cent to 80 per cent less energy than traditional air conditioning (depending on whether it gets used in a humid or a dry climate). That translates into significant savings.
Here’s their chart for two of the hottest cities in the country, Phoenix and Houston.
Commercial buildings will be the first market targeted for a rollout because the return-on-investment is much higher, the engineers tell SmartGridNews.com.
For a more in-depth look at the DEVAP system, check out this video put together by the DOE:
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