It’s been a hot summer, and it’s not over yet. Across the U.S., Europe, Russia, China, India, and Pakistan we’ve already seen record-breaking heat waves and 2010 is on track globally to be the hottest year ever. It’s hard to say all the hot weather can be blamed on climate change, but it sure doesn’t argue against it. The hot weather also means that we need more energy-efficient ways of supplying cool air that both people and the planet can live with. A hybrid air cooler may be just what we need.
Most ACs today use the compressor-based air conditioners that appear as boxes in windows, on roofs, and on the ground next to buildings. These systems use chlorofluorocarbons as refrigerants that are allowed to evaporate inside the system to absorb heat. Today’s air conditioners are more energy efficient than in the past, but on hot days even the most efficient of air conditioners can strain the power grid. Air conditioning uses more electricity than just about anything else in the home, and can cost hundreds of dollars a month to run. The problem is not just for homeowners either: hot weather and ramped up air conditioning can strain electrical lines and power production, leading to brownouts or even blackouts.
Alternative technologies for air cooling based on the evaporation of water can use 80% less electricity, helping consumers to save money. How evaporative air cooling works is simple–when water evaporates from a surface it absorbs heat and cools the surface, in the same way that sweat cools your skin on a hot day. Swamp coolers also make the air humid in homes so they’re not used as widely as air conditioning today, despite their greater energy efficiency. Indirect evaporative cooling, or hybrid air cooling, is a simple but innovative technology that provides the energy efficiency of swamp coolers without making homes humid like swamp coolers. With hybrid air cooling, evaporation of water cools one side of a surface, while a separate air flow blows over the other side to cool the home. With hybrid air cooling, very little power is used, and the air is neither dried like with air conditioners, or humid like swamp coolers.
The performance of hybrid air coolers can be impressive. James Cass, an inventor in Las Vegas, is developing his own solution with a hybrid air cooler called the Mojave Breeze. His unit utilizes a unique design to achieve powerful air cooling, low power use, and low overall cost, a fraction of what other air cooling units sell for.
In testing his unit, Cass has already demonstrated a dramatic reduction in energy costs. Las Vegas is no stranger to hot weather, but his unit can handle even the hottest days, no trouble, and he estimates his unit could pay for itself in less than a year with the energy it saves. There might not be much we all agree on, but saving money is something just about everybody loves. The cost of power from utilities is certain to keep on rising in the future, and action to fight climate change is likely to raise the overall price of electricity as well, making the payoff of energy efficiency with the Mojave Breeze just get better and better over time.
Cass started working on the Mojave Breeze after seeing the fundamental need for more efficient air cooling, and the lack of cost effective solutions to solve this problem. Testing his unit over a period of months, he has found that it reliably cools the air, and its innovative design avoids many of the issues people have encountered in the past.
“It’s been a long road of tests, redesigns, and set backs,” says Cass. “Finally, after three years, I have created an air cooler that will reduce outside air temperature up to 40 degrees while only using 400 watts of electricity. My dream is that this product will save families money and ease the financial strain most middle income families feel.”
It’s the classic story of the inventor, working to build the lean and green economy of the 21st century. With innovations like this, people can stay comfortable without busting their budget and without contributing to climate change, a good thing for us all. Look to see the Mojave Breeze coming soon to a cool home near you.
James Cass can be reached at this email address.