Air conditioning units are crucial in cars — especially if you live in an area prone to humid and hot temperatures. However the problem with A/C units is that they consume a lot of fuel as they run. Fortunately, researchers from the Polytechnic University (PolyU) in Hong Kong recently announced that they have successfully developed and tested a solar-powered A/C system for vehicles.
Developed in collaboration with industry partners including Green Power Industrial Ltd, the A/C system consists of a photovoltaic module, a solar control system, an air-conditioning control unit, an electrical VFD (variable frequency-driven) compressor, and a cool air and temperature feedback system. The project was devised by Professor Eric Cheng of PolyU’s Department of Electrical Engineering, who designed it to be installed on trucks carrying beverages — we have already talked about the system being used in Coca-Cola’s fleet of vehicles, but this is the first time that the unit has been successfully tested.
The system consists of a roof-mounted photovoltaic panel that collects solar energy and stories it in a custom battery supported by an optimized control system. The power collected will then be able to support a stand-alone electric air-conditioner, which can be switched on when the vehicle engine is not running. If the weather is dark, then stored energy can be used to power the system.
Currently the system can only produce enough power to sustain a standalone electric air conditioner, but the researchers are currently working on other projects that can benefit from the system, such as implementing them on the streets of Hong Kong to power shop A/C units and refrigerators.