Summer is awesome – the jump in our electricity bills from air conditioning, not so much. Luckily for anyone watching their wallets (and for the power grid), scientists at the National Renewable Energy Lab have developed a new air conditioning process that has the potential to use up to 90% less energy than today’s top-of-the-line ACs. The lab used membranes, evaporative cooling and liquid desiccants to achieve the ultra efficient results, which, if passed along to the market, could be huge in terms of saving both power and money.
So what’s the secret to the lab’s success? Well, typical evaporative cooling air conditioners actually add humidity to their cool air output, meaning they really only work well in dry areas. Dubbed DEVap, the new technology uses liquid desiccants to remove that humidity from the cooled air.
What’s even better is that since DEVap uses salt solutions instead of refrigerants, it eliminates the need for harmful chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) which contribute about 2,000 x as much as carbon dioxide to global warming.
Unfortunately, we won’t be reaping the benefits of DEVap this summer, but the lab is working hard on the technology, so hopefully we will see it in a few years.