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Should We Give Up Air Conditioning To Help the Planet?

Should We Give Up Air Conditioning To Help the Planet?

An article on Alternet.org titled, “Air-Conditioning Is Terrible for the Earth — Here’s How to Live Without It” caught my attention. My response to the article’s premise that we just have to learn to live without air conditioning is a definite, “Hell, no!” Yes, it is true that air conditioning uses a considerable amount of energy, which in turn increases carbon dioxide emissions. It’s a vicious cycle, to use an old cliché. Fortunately, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) invented the Desiccant-Enhanced eVaporative air conditioner (DEVap).

The DEVap has the potential to be 50 to 90 percent more energy efficient than traditional air conditioners. What it does is take the concept of evaporate coolers and make them work in all climates. It uses desiccants to solve the problem. Wikipedia defines a desiccant as a “substance that induces or sustains a state of dryness in its local vicinity in a moderately well-sealed container.”

According to the NREL, the DEVap “relies on the desiccants’ capacity to create dry air using heat and evaporative coolers’ capacity to take dry air and make cold air.” In other words, it allows the DEVap to cool a place down despite the humidity in the air or the extremely high temperatures that occur in areas with dry heat, like the San Joaquin Valley of California. As everyone knows, the traditional swamp cooler just does not work in humid areas or when the temperatures rise over 100 degrees in a hot, dry area.

 

Eric Kozubal, co-inventor of the DEVap, says that the idea of it is to “revolutionize cooling, while removing millions of metric tons of carbon from the air.”

 

“We’d been working with membranes, evaporative coolers and desiccants. We saw an opportunity to combine them into a single device for a product with unique capabilities,” Kozubal adds.

A great feature of the DEVap is that it uses “highly concentrated aqueous salt solutions of lithium chloride or calcium chloride,” as the NREL describes, as desiccants. The salt solutions, unlike refrigerants, do not produce chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). One pound of CFC or HCFC in air conditioners using refrigerants adds up to 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

 

The bad news is that it will be a few years before DEVap air conditioners are on the market. When they are available, they will save consumers money, and the environment at the same time. I say, bring it on!

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116 comments

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7:55PM PST on Dec 20, 2013

Thank you for article.

7:54PM PST on Dec 20, 2013

Thank you for article.

7:53PM PST on Dec 20, 2013

Thank you for article.

7:53PM PST on Dec 20, 2013

Thank you for article.

7:52PM PST on Dec 20, 2013

Thank you for article.

11:20PM PST on Nov 11, 2013

interesting

10:52AM PDT on Jul 27, 2011

I try to keep my A/C up to as high a temperature as I can, to keep my bills down. I live in a multi-unit rabbit warren apartment complex in a corner unit. In my car I use the windows as often as possible to reduce emissions & increase gas mileage.

I do hope that science can find a better way to power our homes, that is more affordable financially and more feasible economically, and that we manage to incorporate these things into daily life, as soon as possible.

1:35PM PDT on Jul 21, 2011

People have been on this earth a lot longer than air conditioning. In most countries to this day AC is a luxury item and not in every home. There are ways to overcome the heat, like fans, drinking ice water, dressing appropriately. Running the AC to keep the house at 75 when its 101 outside is ridiculous. I have lived without AC BY CHOICE for about 10 years now. I haven't died from it.

5:12PM PDT on Jul 17, 2011

I will give up my air conditioning when the next ice age starts.

12:52PM PDT on Jul 17, 2011

Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.
(Native American proverb)

"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers." (Martin Luther King)

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