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Cooling Your Home and Saving the Planet: Your Future Air Conditioner Might Work for Dual Purpose

The air conditioning units are working hard to keep people cool as the mighty Summer is already here. The demand for air conditioning and refrigeration is rising day by day as our planet is getting warmer in a very unexpected manner.

Roland Dittmeyer, an engineer at Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, sees a lot of potential in this increasing amount of demand. Air conditioning units suck a large amount of air, sometimes all day long.

Air Conditioner; Image Source: learn.compactappliance.com

In a paper which was published on 30 April,2019 in the journal Nature Communications, Dittmeyer and his team proposed that besides using AC units for be employed for cooling homes and offices, it can also be used for gulping the potent heat-trapping gas carbon dioxide out of the air.

Air Conditioning Process; Image Source: www.swtc.edu

Have you ever wondered how the Air Conditioning System works? The interesting fact is that the air conditioner and the refrigerator work primarily the same way. The difference is that refrigerator cools a small, insulated space, and an air conditioner keeps a room like space at a comfortable temperature.

There is a thermostat installed in the AC which When you switch senses the the difference in the temperature of the room’s air and the temperature that you have chosen just after you have turned on the AC. This warm air of the room is drawn in after which it flows over some pipes through which the refrigerant (a coolant fluid) is flowing. The refrigerant absorbs the heat from the warm air and becomes a hot gas itself. This is how the heat is removed from the air.

The cooling fluid reaches the compressor as a low-pressure gas. The mechanism that compressing a gas increases its temperature is used here. The compressor compresses the gas so that it becomes hot. This hot gas then travels to the third component which is known as the condenser. It condenses the hot gas so that it becomes a cooler liquid .

The refrigerant reaches the condenser as a hot gas, but quickly becomes a cooler liquid because the heat of the ‘hot gas’ is dissipated to the surroundings through metal fins. While leaving the condenser, the refrigerant leaves as a cooler liquid. This flows through the evaporator. When the refrigerant leaves the evaporator, it is once again a low-pressure, chilled gas, which makes the environment cooler.

Despite of the advantages of Air Conditioning system, it also has some major disadvantages. The Air conditioning units run on electricity that relies primarily on fossil fuels to generate power. As the need for cooling rises, so too will the need for electricity. The increasing air conditioning market is increasing many challenges for the future. Today, approximately 20% of the total electricity used in buildings around the world is used for air conditioners and electric fans. Energy used for space cooling has been on the rise for years. The International Energy Agency expects space cooling energy needs to be tripled by 2050.

A graph showing the rise in global energy consumption for space cooling; Image Source: climate.org

Also, modern civilization has a giant CO2 problem. Carbon dioxide levels are the highest they’ve been in millions of years. And, critically, the rate of CO2 increase in the last 50 years isn’t just unpredictable in human history, it’s unprecedented in the geologic record. This increasing CO2 is trapping the heat more than ever making the environment warmer more than ever.

CO2 concentrations on Earth over the last 800,000 years; Image Source: mashable.com

According to Dittmeyer, AC units, if either modified or newly built, can be used to absorb carbon from the CO2 saturated skies and also can reduce the pressure of electricity. The concept relies on having a filter which can capture and amass carbon dioxide. Then, with an ample supply of carbon, Dittmeyer proposes using the AC system to add water and employ an energy-efficient chemical process to make an artificial liquid, fossil fuel. These are Ac-driven fuel which will be used to produce enough energy to circulate the AC unit, reducing the need of electricity. “If you have enough [AC-derived fuel], you could store it,” Dittmeyer explained.

Modular technology for capturing CO2 already commercialized by many companies; Image Source: www.nature.com

Dittmeyer and his team found that skyscrapers and other large buildings could remove bounties of CO2. A six-apartment building might take up over a pound of CO2 each hour. If Dittmeyer proves the technology at his large-scale lab, it will create a revolutionary impact on the current climate change issue.

Featured Image Source: www.sustainability.vic.gov.au

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