Chief Technology Officer
Ice Energy, Windsor, Colorado
Parsonnet, 55, led the development of the Ice Bear, a device that is attached to commercial air conditioners and uses ice to store energy, making cooling more efficient and easing the burden on the electric grid.
"The Ice Bear solves two problems. It cuts air conditioners' fuel consumption and reduces strain on the electric grid. In a regular air-conditioning system, the refrigerant evaporates as it goes through the evaporator and cools the air. You run it in a continuous process, which means taking evaporated refrigerant and turning it back into a liquid by compressing it, which uses electricity. We replace the compressor with ice. Our tank, which is attached to the unit, is filled just once with water. That water stores energy in the form of ice, which is made at night, when energy can be generated more efficiently. During the day, the ice turns into water and cools the refrigerant. So instead of compressing the refrigerant to a liquid, we cool it to [a liquid] so it can then cool the air. Since the Ice Bear hit the market seven years ago, we've sold about 7,000 units."
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A version of this article appeared in the September 2011 issue of Fast Company magazine.