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New Air Conditioner Process Cuts Energy Use 50-90%

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the tortured-backronym dept.

Earth 445

necro81 writes "The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory has announced that it has developed a new method for air conditioning that reduces energy use by 50-90%. The DEVap system (Desiccant-Enhanced eVaporative air conditioner) cools air using evaporative cooling, which is not new, but combines the process with a liquid dessicant for pulling the water vapor out of the cooled air stream. The liquid dessicant, a very strong aqueous solution of lithium chloride or sodium chloride, is separated from the air stream by a permeable hydrophobic membrane. Heat is later used to evaporate water vapor back out — heat that can come from a variety of sources such as solar or natural gas. The dessicants are, compared to typical refrigerants like HCFCs, relatively benign on the environment."

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Death by poisoning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32638224)

If legionnaires doesn't get you the sulphur chloride mix surely will.

Re:Death by poisoning (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32638296)

If legionnaires doesn't get you the out of control rampaging niggers surely will.

FTFY

Well... (4, Funny)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638242)

It's cheaper than using trained hydrophobes. Or are they used to create the membrane?

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32638280)

I don't think they get the dessicant from wells. Not sure why you mentioned a well.

Re:Well... (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638646)

I'm pretty sure they don't get the hydrophobe-based dessicant from Wells. From Pratchett maybe...

Re:Well... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32638370)

I didn't think I'd see the day, where a Discworld reference didn't score at least a 4 on Slashdot.
Oh how things have changed...

OK, so when can we buy one? (4, Insightful)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638266)

So when will we be able to buy one of these? I know my wife is going to be asking for an AC in the house this summer, and I'm sure that the people in places like AZ, NM, and TX will be clamoring to lower their electric bill.

Additionally, will the dessicants (or the filter) have a recycle lifespan, or will it be more like a traditional household AC, using a 'simple' radiator device?

Re:OK, so when can we buy one? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32638444)

I know my wife is going to be asking for an AC in the house this summer

Really? Another one? I've been visiting her for months.

Re:OK, so when can we buy one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32638460)

Me too!

Re:OK, so when can we buy one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32638486)

So *that* is the reason there was a long queue on CAIMLAS' house uh?

Re:OK, so when can we buy one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32638946)

That's why I started using the back door. So to speak.

Re:OK, so when can we buy one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32638972)

I already seemed to notice the backdoors' entrance was a bit forced..

Re:OK, so when can we buy one? (4, Informative)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638888)

AZ and NM use a lot of swamp coolers if they can't afford AC. With 100 degree 0% RH, a swamp coolers does a decent job.

Re:OK, so when can we buy one? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32639208)

From that statement I assume you do not have one or have ever used one for more than a recreational cooler. Electroic instruments don't like the environment they create either.

Re:OK, so when can we buy one? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32638950)

Vaporware...

(My apologies if these people actually have a viable consumer product with at least a 50% improvement in efficiency. Big numbers like that usually mean that something is decades away from consumer applications.)

Good for server farms? (5, Interesting)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638270)

Heat is later used to evaporate water vapor back out — heat that can come from a variety of sources such as solar or natural gas.

or the servers that are being cooled?

Re:Good for server farms? (5, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638284)

And how are they going to pipe down solar gas into your server room anyway?

Re:Good for server farms? (1)

lul_wat (1623489) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638502)

Multiplex the internet tubes to allocate time between Internet and Gas

Re:Good for server farms? (1)

weirdcrashingnoises (1151951) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638884)

but what would the power draw of the demultiplexer be?

Re:Good for server farms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32638992)

The joke's on you, solar oil is an old tradename for diesel fuel, so solar gas must be ethylene or something like that.

Re:Good for server farms? (2, Informative)

MoellerPlesset2 (1419023) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638586)

or the servers that are being cooled?

Why not? In the opposite situation to AC, I know the PDC [pdc.kth.se] supercomputing center in Stockholm, Sweden feeds the surplus heat from their machines into the local district heating system.
Perhaps even more originally, those crafty Swedes have also hooked up their crematoriums [telegraph.co.uk] !

Re:Good for server farms? (4, Funny)

daem0n1x (748565) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638652)

Oh, those fucking nanny-state latte-drinking faggie euro-trash tree-hugging abortionist lesbian pot-smoking liberals! That be a strike against liberty!

God gave me the right of freezing to death without having that nanny-state surplus heat fed into my heating system. If I want heat, I'll buy my own oil and heat myself, thank you!

First, you accept their surplus heat, then you go to the hospital for free, when you least expect it you're all dressed in red, singing "The International".

Re:Good for server farms? (0)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638620)

Finally ... a CPU that can cool itself. No noisy heatsink required!

Re:Good for server farms? (4, Insightful)

Pax681 (1002592) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638738)

Finally ... a CPU that can cool itself. No noisy heatsink required!

heatsinks are NOT noisy....... not one bit

fans can be tho

Re:Good for server farms? (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638628)

I'm afraid of one thing: if that filter isn't 100% efficient, salt particles everywhere!
Not harmful to humans (quite healthy actually) but not good for electronics.

Re:Good for server farms? (1)

Calinous (985536) | more than 4 years ago | (#32639114)

Yes, if your servers run at some high temperature - I assume above water boiling point, based on the specific type of liquid dessicant. Maybe quite a bit more than the boiling point, as it seems this uses a chemical bond

Is this a closed system? (5, Informative)

OnePumpChump (1560417) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638272)

Swamp coolers use a LOT of water. Is this better than them in terms of water use? If not, it's just trading one environmental ill for another. The places that have water to spare also have humidity high enough that even this system might not do so well with its evaporative cooling, and the places where evaporative cooling works best don't have the water to spare.

Re:Is this a closed system? (3, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638496)

From what they claim, it sounds like pairing with the desiccants will allow it to work better in humid climates, so presumably that'd have some benefit for places that are hot, humid, and have plentiful water. They do mention being able to improve the usefulness of evaporative coolers in Tucson, though (by allowing for cooling to lower temps), so you might be right about it trading one environmental ill for another.

Re:Is this a closed system? (4, Insightful)

smpoole7 (1467717) | more than 4 years ago | (#32639098)

> The places that have water to spare also have humidity ...

It's like that here in Alabama. We're currently running in the mid-90's with dewpoints in 80's. "Swamp coolers" just don't work well in this climate, so I don't know how useful this will be to us.

From the Wiki article on evaporative cooling: "When considering water evaporating into air, the wet-bulb temperature, as compared to the air's dry-bulb temperature, is a measure of the potential for evaporative cooling. The greater the difference between the two temperatures, the greater the evaporative cooling effect. When the temperatures are the same, no net evaporation of water in air occurs, thus there is no cooling effect."

This is simple physics.

In other words, it's a neat idea that'll probably work in Arizona and Utah, as others have mentioned, but where AC is used the most -- here in the humid Southern states -- evaporative cooling just doesn't work.

Not that I wouldn't like to see it, mind you, considering the electric bills at our studios and transmitter sites. :(

Re:Is this a closed system? (2, Interesting)

Phat_Tony (661117) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638562)

How much water does it use, and also, if it were rolled out city-wide, how much would it increase local humidity on those hot, still days?

Re:Is this a closed system? (4, Interesting)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638606)

1) it can use salty water. It's drinking water that we are short on.
2) cooling the air extracts humidity from it. If the dehumidifier filter is ~99% efficient, it will receive more water from intake air than lose at the filter.

Re:Is this a closed system? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32638732)

Not only that, they are using wierd chemicals like sodium chloride which contains toxic sodium!

lithium chloride or sodium chloride? (0, Troll)

tyrione (134248) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638276)

I lost interest at this point. Wake me up when biochemists and medical doctors get a chance to run test case groups about the adverse effects of lithium in their localized atmosphere, typically inhaled into the lungs and later causing one's sense of reality to become skewed.

Promote better insulation solutions that are efficient and cheap to deploy. It's far easier to regulate a room at a fixed temperature when the control system is properly insulated and thus eliminates the need for A/C. Heat Transfer is a standard course for us Mechanical Engineers and though I do realize billions upon billions has been made by developing HVAC systems [Home A/C] for the average idiot, the average idiot is far better off fiscally making their homes standards efficient in insulation [R30 in the exterior walls, R45-60 [depending on your temperate zone] in the ceiling, R30 in the sub-flooring and a variable speed 95% efficient furnace at 68% year round than they are throwing in a damn A/C solution. The HVAC industry doesn't give two bits about the consumer. This energy savings is a means to sell people more unnecessary A/C at much higher prices when more conventional solutions apply.

Sell it to corporations. I'm sure they'd love to deploy multi-million dollar HVAC systems rather than bring their buildings up to code.

Re:lithium chloride or sodium chloride? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32638328)

Yes because the alternative to the lithium chloride solution is horribly dangerous .. oh wait.

Besides, who is going to be drinking that stuff? I can't imagine it'd look particularly inviting after being sat there for months and months.

Re:lithium chloride or sodium chloride? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638922)

I eated a pack of silica gel.

Re:lithium chloride or sodium chloride? (3, Insightful)

PrinceAshitaka (562972) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638358)

And otherr refridgerants like R-134a can also form deadly compounts when the degrade, but since they are in a closed system they can be used. I don't think the researchers anticipated tha eventuality that somone would open up one of thier units and drink the liquid inside.

Re:lithium chloride or sodium chloride? (4, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638482)

I don't think the researchers anticipated tha eventuality that somone would open up one of thier units and drink the liquid inside.

So if they don't do stuff like that, then whats the point of having grad students?

Re:lithium chloride or sodium chloride? (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638510)

This is not really a closed system though - the hydrophobic membrane can not be 100% efficient. OTOH, you can get a salt water inhalation solutions at a pharmacy, to help with drying up eyes and nose - some salty water in the air may be a positive thing. (still, not the optimal solution for server rooms etc).

Re:lithium chloride or sodium chloride? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32638664)

What? I've been drinking kool-aid for years you insensitive clod!

Re:lithium chloride or sodium chloride? (-1, Flamebait)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638906)

Insightful my ass. R-134a, unless it is heated with a flame, does not degrade.You are a fucking idiot, go back to computers and stop commenting on things you have no idea about. R-134a, will suffocate you to death in a closed environment because it displaces oxygen. If burned, it forms what is a close relative of mustard gas, a really nasty gaseous acid. Otherwise, it is not dangerous to your immediate health, and within a properly operating system, it does not degrade at all. Fucking moron.

Re:lithium chloride or sodium chloride? (1, Funny)

edumacator (910819) | more than 4 years ago | (#32639202)

Who pissed in your cornflakes this morning?

Re:lithium chloride or sodium chloride? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32638374)

Your suggestion is hardly a solution for the vast majority of people who cannot renovate their home to meet standards. Apartment superintendents, landlords, and hell even members of your community can throw a wrench in your plans. Even if theres no opposition, renovation still requires licenses, permits and other red tape. $DEITY forbid you live in a "historic" area. Air conditioning is a technological advancement just as any other. Take advantage of it and move along.

Re:lithium chloride or sodium chloride? (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638376)

Maybe you should have read the rest.

It does say these dessicants are relatively benign compared to the presently used refrigerants.

But you are spot on with the rest of your post, proper insulation and appropriate construction techniques would go a long way in limiting the energy consumption of buildings.

In the mean time we here in N/W Europe we can only hope for weather warm enough to switch off the heating.

Are you planning on paying? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32638396)

Are you going to fund that for my 1930's construction? It will require opening up the walls and upgrading all the electrical and plumbing along with the insulation. It will also require the removal of the roof. If you are willing to pay 100% of the cost then I say we have a deal. If not then you are not being realistic.

Re:Are you planning on paying? (1)

BKX (5066) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638970)

You're making it out to be much more expensive than it actually is. If you really have 1930's construction, then insulating your home would be relatively easy and cheap. Between each pair of studs in your wall (and, possibly, ceiling if you have no attic) a hole is drilled and the gap is filled with a ground newspapers and phone books. Then you repair the holes. It has quite good insulating properties and is relatively cheap. The 1930's status of your construction actually helps, since you won't have firebreaks to drill under. (Newer construction has a row of vertical studs, called a firebreak, halfway up the wall the prevent fires from spreading as quickly.)

Re:Are you planning on paying? (1)

Ritchie70 (860516) | more than 4 years ago | (#32639046)

Do you perhaps mean a row of horizontal studs?

Re:lithium chloride or sodium chloride? (5, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638436)

I lost interest at this point. Wake me up when biochemists and medical doctors get a chance to run test case groups about the adverse effects of lithium in their localized atmosphere, typically inhaled into the lungs and later causing one's sense of reality to become skewed.

Well what about the Sodium Chloride option. People have lived near oceans without adverse effects.

Re:lithium chloride or sodium chloride? (1)

machine321 (458769) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638840)

Well what about the Sodium Chloride option. People have lived near oceans without adverse effects.

Well, to give you the required car analogy, salty air makes cars rust faster.

Re:lithium chloride or sodium chloride? (5, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638938)

A desert is an ocean with its life undergound, and a perfect disguise above.

Or is it the other way round?

Re:lithium chloride or sodium chloride? (5, Funny)

rve (4436) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638472)

I lost interest at this point. Wake me up when biochemists and medical doctors get a chance to run test case groups about the adverse effects of lithium in their localized atmosphere, typically inhaled into the lungs and later causing one's sense of reality to become skewed.

In order to get lithium chloride vapor in the atmosphere, one would have to raise the temperature to about 1600 Kelvin at normal atmospheric pressure. Under those conditions, I propose blind panic as a suitable coping strategy.

Re:lithium chloride or sodium chloride? (2, Informative)

KDEnut (1673932) | more than 4 years ago | (#32639014)

That's boiling, yes. But LiCl in water can easily aerosolize. Think Nebulizer treatments on a household scale.

It's not either/or (2, Insightful)

stomv (80392) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638504)

If you're building new, modern building codes result in a more insulated space. In my opinion modern codes -- even those in CA or the "stretch in MA or the base points in LEED -- aren't aggressive enough, but they're far better than existing conditions in most buildings. Of course, the same opportunities exist for major remodeling or work on the exterior.

Sometimes, though, the mechanical unit needs to be replaced, and quickly. In those cases, would you prefer that this new AC not exist (assuming they work out any chemical safety issues)? For spaces which are currently being used, the interruptions caused by upgrading the building envelope may be intolerable, a non-starter. In those cases, would you rather this new AC not exist?

You're absolutely right -- improving the insulation and air-sealing of our building stock would have a remarkable impact on our energy use. Still, this new AC system, if it works as advertised, can be applied to buildings for which an insulation and air-sealing upgrade simply isn't in the cards in the near term.

Adding another tool to the belt isn't a bad thing, as long as we continue to use the right tool for the job. Building codes will help ensure that we do.

Re:lithium chloride or sodium chloride? (2, Informative)

KDEnut (1673932) | more than 4 years ago | (#32639008)

Chemist who works with LiCl reporting in (Specifically LiCl enhanced potentiometric buffers).

I won't be using it in my house for a simple reason: If that "membrane" gets punctured you're going to have one hell of a cleanup cost. I won't even go into the aerosolized effects. Check out any SDS.

Re:lithium chloride or sodium chloride? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32639032)

You need to do more research. You can put R-400 in the walls and it won't help, because you are dealing with a building that has windows and occupants.

In most places, solar heat gain is a major component that A/C has to deal with. Humidity in the makeup air is also a large problem for A/C to handle.

Humans inject heat and water vapor into the building through cooking, respiration, appliances, and opening doors.

Humans also need fresh air, and you can't -- legally or practically -- build an air-tight building without makeup air.... which introduces more humidity and heat into the building envelope.

I built my house 2 years ago and used all closed-cell spray foam (isocyanate) making all walls, floor, and roof, water-tight and air-tight. 133 mm of foam gives me R-37 in the walls, and more gives me R-60 in the floor and ceiling. All ducting is in conditioned space. All external walls have thermal breaks (offset studs). I have an ultra-efficient water-jacketed earth-coupled geothermal heat pump. The solar gain in the summer still rapes my house with heat gain. The makeup air I have to have because the house is so damn air-tight, uses a high capacity heat exchanger, but still is a water-vapor sieve pumping water vapor into the conditioned space that the A/C has to then remove.

So do a little more research before you spout off with drivel.

You can- and should- do better than that. (1)

dfenstrate (202098) | more than 4 years ago | (#32639212)

As a fellow mechanical engineer, I would have preferred you considered more practical matters, along with cost-benefit and time value of money considerations before you shot your mouth off. Either that, or not mention you're a Mechanical Engineer.

Other responders have covered these things adequately, so I won't repeat them.

Re:lithium chloride or sodium chloride? (4, Insightful)

mprinkey (1434) | more than 4 years ago | (#32639264)

Your argument is bogus. R30 fiberglass bats are 9 1/2 inches thick. Are you saying to frame the walls with 2x10s. You know the cost of dimensional lumber increases geometrically with dimension, right. Or do you stagger frame with 2x6s...basically build each wall twice and double your labor costs?

What about existing structures? Because the US market has enough backlog of existing structures. Do you build another layer of insulation INSIDE the house and lose a foot of floorspace near each exterior wall..and then pay to reframe, drywall, move out electrical outlets, etc? Or do you reframe the exterior of the house and then cover and weatherize your new outside envelope?

In either case, what about windows and doors? You do know that heat will gladly take a parallel path. Third-year ME heat transfer class...remember the resistor analogy? You can make the walls R300 and the heat will still get in (out) through "holes in the bucket." Have you priced super high R glazing options? Do you want a 8" thick front door? Even in the walls themselves, you have to worry about thermal bridging through the wood studs...all these would be problems even with some crazy aerogel insulation that is R50/inch.

The building standard is what it is for a reason. It is an engineering trade-off between cost and performance. R30 in the ceiling and either 2x6 walls with R18 or 2x4 walls with R11-12...and maybe a dense insulation board on the outside before siding is installed. Double pane insulated glass windows. Now those trade-offs were in considered with energy and HVAC hardware costs at a certainly level. And more insulation is good but only to the point. The insulation costs goes well beyond the price of the insulation bat, and a point exists where adding more makes no financial sense. If you *insist* on having windows and doors, it doesn't make engineering sense anymore either. Your recommendation is well past that and smacks of niavete. Build or remodel a house or two (especially using your OWN MONEY) and then get back to me. A home built to your bogus specifications would cost four or five times more. I doubt you could find someone to build it for you.

If you want to look into green houses, then look into earth bearmed homes, rammed earth homes...building underground, using lots and lots of earth as thermal insulation and thermal mass. Folks have been doing this since the 70s and there are books that give some good overviews. I'd like to see the building codes revised to make it easier to build some of these different "hippie" houses.

And in sunny climates, I think the best ROI would be a 100x100 white canvas tarp and support structure to shade your entire house. I'm surprised no one does that. That would effectively remove the direct radiation load from the cooling...which is significant...just ask your barefeet after a walk across sunlit asphalt.

Is it better than this? (0)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638348)

These guys [coolerado.com] make an evaporative cooler that sends cool, dry air into the building, and saturated air back outside. The only working fluids are air and water.

-jcr

Re:Is it better than this? (5, Informative)

hcpxvi (773888) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638388)

Sheesh, RTFA, already. They mention the coolerado and explain exactly why this new idea has the potential to do better.

Re:Is it better than this? (2, Funny)

Geheimagent (679949) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638744)

Sheesh, RTFA, already. They mention the coolerado and explain exactly why this new idea has the potential to do better.

Cause Coolerado [coolerado.com] uses Flash and TFA [nrel.gov] HTML5?

Re:Is it better than this? (1)

Calinous (985536) | more than 4 years ago | (#32639124)

Has the potential to do better in hot and humid climates (and might do better in hot and dry climates, although it might be more expensive)

Insulate even in the warm climate! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32638352)

For starters, Americans should start insulating their houses better. That would cut the energy costs even more.

Re:Insulate even in the warm climate! (1)

Dutchy Wutchy (547108) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638490)

From what I have seen, American insulation is leaps and bounds ahead of southern Japan's methods. Single pane windows with poor sealing, the walls are empty, covered with ~1/8th inch particle board, and the area between floors is ventilated to the outside.

Re:Insulate even in the warm climate! (1)

inigopete (780297) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638544)

But are those southern Japanese houses usually air-conditioned? If not, the comparison is irrelevant.

Re:Insulate even in the warm climate! (1)

Dutchy Wutchy (547108) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638608)

Air-conditioned in summer, heated in winter. Central heating and cooling is very very rare. Usually, only the rooms you are using climate controlled. A Scottish chap commented that his family's home's heating bill for heating their entire house 24 hours a day is equal or less than his wife's family's home's bill for heating only a few rooms part of the day.

Re:Insulate even in the warm climate! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32638914)

Any Japanese woman will tell you that insulating a Japanese house is impossible, because any attempt to do so will ensure that mould infests the house as soon as summer comes around.

Given the large fraction of Japanese homemakers who have never experienced a summer in a foreign home and the fact that the Japanese power giants are happily selling electricity at near double the US rate, don't expect this mentality to change anytime soon.

Re:Insulate even in the warm climate! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32638714)

"Sir, are you aware you were going 120 in a 30 zone?"

"Yeah, but I saw someone who was going 130!"

Re:Insulate even in the warm climate! (1)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638730)

I just recently saw an apartment that I was going to rent. But the windows were storm windows - no primary window at all. Talk about poor insulation! And this is in the US, too.

Re:Insulate even in the warm climate! (3, Informative)

Born2bwire (977760) | more than 4 years ago | (#32639170)

Americans? I would say that most Western nations like America, Canada, and Western Europe are doing pretty well when it comes to insulation compared to other countries. Hong Kong makes me cringe. Cement walls and large rows of single pane glass windows for residential and most shops have open storefronts with the air conditioning blasting. Given the high heat and humidity, air conditioning accounts for a large amount of energy expenses.

Not just insualation, setting reasonable temps too (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638716)

I keep my house at 78 in the summer, I have ceiling fans in all the rooms I frequently use in the day. Throw in nine foot ceilings and it is very comfortable; especially when compared to the 90+ high humidity days we have in Georgia. Last year my highest bill in the summer was $140. This is four thousand square feet of home. Granted the other electrical costs are pretty low because of CFLs everywhere, a LED based projection tv - we only have one tv, and Macs/Pcs that sleep often.

That compares to some friends of mine who burn through $300 or more per month in the summer to keep the same or smaller homes; sometimes half the size; at ridiculously low temperatures, like 72. Throw in lights on everywhere it seems if not a TV or two both running and it becomes easy to see that insulation alone won't help. Most laws in recent years require much higher R value for homes but behavioral changes must also take place. People need to want to conserve. Children especially need to learn conservation in schools in ways that does not lead to being combative at home.

Encourage good behavior by allowing people to opt into reduced rates for sensible living. This means power meters than not only record usage but can record how its used, as in knowing what temperatures you set and such. Some regions already offer reduced power costs if you elect to lose power during certain periods to reduce the load on the whole system but it doesn't help when the behavior of those who use power inefficiently.

Re:Not just insualation, setting reasonable temps (1)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638940)

My home stays 70 degrees at 50-55% RH year round. My power bill runs about 150-175 a month. My gas bills runs about 65-75 a month from late Oct to late Feb. Here in the next year or two, I will go ahead and have either a couple of cooling wells drilled or DIY a trench system for a geothermal HP. I am still using a 10 SEER HP and 90% propane converted furnace. But then again, I spent good money and a lot of effort installing insulation when building, and making an optimal duct system, along with using ERVs. I spent close to 9 grand 4 years ago when building, on HVAC/insulation. The average home owner would pay around 15 to 20K for the same set up. Owning an HVAC/R company does pay off at times.

Re:Insulate even in the warm climate! (1)

spectrokid (660550) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638722)

Most homes in the US should be able to recuperate an investment in insulation within 4 years. Most stock market traders would bugger their own mother for that kind of a (guaranteed) return.

Re:Insulate even in the warm climate! (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638952)

You mean I can break even after only four years? Sign me up!

Re:Insulate even in the warm climate! (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 4 years ago | (#32639054)

They are... when they buy a new house. The problem is far more people buy 20+ year old houses than build new ones. Re-insulating an older house is prohibitively expensive.

Re:Insulate even in the warm climate! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32639174)

**For starters, Americans should start insulating their houses better. That would cut the energy costs even more.

Yeah, those damned Americans. Everyone knows they're to blame for all the ills of the world.

The key to TFA (4, Informative)

dtmos (447842) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638392)

"By no means is the concept novel, the idea of combining the two," Kozubal said. "But no one has been able to come up with a practical and cost-effective way to do it."

Or, maybe,

Inventing a device simple enough for easy installation and maintenance is what has impaired desiccant cooling from entering into commercial and residential cooling markets.

As TFA states, desiccant cooling has been known since at least Carrier's work at the turn of the 20th Century. The trick has always been to make a practical desiccant cooling system.

Re:The key to TFA (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638458)

> The trick has always been to make a practical desiccant cooling system.

NREL has patented the DEVap concept, and Kozubal expects that over the next couple of years he will be working on making the device smaller and simpler and perfecting the heat transfer to make DEVap more cost effective.

which means it still is not practical... or at least practical enough.

Re:The key to TFA (1)

dtmos (447842) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638828)

Exactly.

Calcium chloride not sodium chloride!!!! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32638410)

but it doesn't matter, its still years away from practical
NREL has patented the DEVap concept, and Kozubal expects that over the next couple of years he will be working on making the device smaller and simpler and perfecting the heat transfer to make DEVap more cost effective.

Dr. John Gorrie (4, Interesting)

dtmos (447842) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638468)

Few people have heard of the true inventor of both air conditioning and the artificial ice machine, Dr. John Gorrie [wikipedia.org] , of Apalachicola, Florida, who received the first patent (number 8080 [uspto.gov] ) for a machine to make ice, on May 6, 1851. While it was reduced to practice (he used it to cool the rooms of his fever patients, and gave iced drinks to his guests at parties -- a fantastic novelty in 1850s Florida) he was unable to make a financial success of the venture. His machine was the first to make use of the refrigeration method of air conditioning.

Re:Dr. John Gorrie (2, Informative)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638966)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willis_Carrier [wikipedia.org] Think this is the guy you are looking for. An ice maker, which didn't work very well does not in any stretch equal air conditioning. And the idea of evaporative cooling, using liquids other than water, was done by a dude using ether dripping through a small hole to produce cooling.

This method has been used for centiries (1)

norteo (779244) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638518)

Botijo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Botijo [wikipedia.org]

Re:This method has been used for centiries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32638576)

In India, clay pots have been used for 1000s of years to cool water during summer.

Re:This method has been used for centiries (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638584)

now capture the evaporated water back into the bottle and we're home.

Re:This method has been used for centiries (2, Informative)

Namarrgon (105036) | more than 4 years ago | (#32639036)

That's plain old evaporative cooling, and doesn't work too well in humid climates. TFA describes a method that combines evaporative and dessicative cooling in a novel way, without that disadvantage.

The heat goes in... The heat goes in... (1)

kd3bj (733314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638602)

Heat from air evaporates water to cool air; heat from natural gas evaporates water from desiccant. Where does all this heat come out?

Re:The heat goes in... The heat goes in... (2, Informative)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638638)

In the street, just like every other air conditioner in the world.

Pointless (0, Flamebait)

drsquare (530038) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638626)

People will just run it longer, or leave their windows and doors open all the time, to make up for the energy savings.

Re:Pointless (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638998)

People will just run it longer, or leave their windows and doors open all the time, to make up for the energy savings

You're right. There's no point in doing anything, ever. We should all just die. Also, you hate your parents, right? Because they wouldn't get you the bigger iPod?

Re:Pointless (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#32639086)

I don't think people run air conditioning just to burn a set amount of energy. They run it to feel comfortable and if an advancement helps them reach that point more efficiently, all the better. There will be some edge cases (people who might otherwise not have turned on the air conditioning because they were only a little warm and it costs a lot to run), but overall if savings really are anywhere near 50-90% this should more than compensate for those cases. As other people have pointed out, there are bigger issues here than people just running the AC a little longer.

hi (-1, Offtopic)

helentaylor21 (1838134) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638658)

And otherr refridgerants like R-134a can also form deadly compounts when the degrade, but since they are in a closed system they can be used. I don't think the researchers anticipated tha eventuality that somone would open up one of thier units and drink the liquid inside. http://latestnewscheck.blogspot.com/2010/06/tel-launches-suns-world-cup-song-from.html [blogspot.com]

No solid-state? (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638710)

That's all well and good, but I'd rather see efficiency advances in solid state cooling (quieter, more reliable, often smaller...)

Spelling (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638766)

It must be hard to spell the word "desiccant" correctly, especially after you have just copied the correct name (Desiccant-Enhanced eVaporative air conditioner) from TFA.

Isn't that "old" tech? (1)

RichiH (749257) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638770)

We are getting a new AC system in our DC in a few weeks and this sounds pretty much exactly like the things they do.

Can someone enlighten me, please?

(plus one Inf=ormative) (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32638774)

are 7000 users aacounts for less irrecoverable

And the *best* part... (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638804)

Is that we'll all have this in 3-5 years!

Adsorption coolers (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32638814)

Adsorption coolers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absorption_refrigerator) are far better as they use water as a coolant and heat energy from solar panels. In fact, they consume only electrical energy for the controlling electronics...

Want to learn about corrosion the hard way? (0)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32638918)

The liquid dessicant, a very strong aqueous solution of lithium chloride or sodium chloride

The dessicants are, compared to typical refrigerants like HCFCs, relatively benign on the environment.

Hah Hah Hah Hah. Maybe if you're a bacteria that lives in the dead sea. Everyone else would be screwed. Imagine the environmental costs of making everything in a house to naval ship standards (and this isn't a joke about "being full of sea men"). Imagine the environmental costs of every cheap pine wood stud or steel stud having to be replaced with something "seaproof" like teak or a good grade of marine stainless steel (not the stuff that cracks in chlorine). Imagine the environmental costs of replacing every electrical device within 6 months of purchase or having to run everything in stainless steel conduit so the inside of the house looks like the inside of a WWII submarine (which, personally, I think would be cool, but the average HGTV viewer would freak out, which is probably why I think it would be cool). It will leak and inevitably destroy everything in the house, at extreme environmental cost. But, hey, if it "saved" a hundred watts here and there, I guess thats just great.

Wow...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32639040)

...that's cool.

lithium mmmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32639190)

good to know that lithium chloride is benign.
"For a short time in the 1940s lithium chloride was manufactured as a salt substitute, but this was prohibited after the toxic effects of the compound were recognized"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium_chloride

Manufacturing and operation are the "low end" of the risk. What happens when they get put on the curb or go in landfills en masse. Because they will....

Design the building better (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 4 years ago | (#32639226)

If there is a possibility of creating a passive system over and active system, I would go with the passive system.

Part of the problem is that buildings aren't always designed with their geography or climate in mind. One solution I have seen for passive cooling of a building is a Wind Catcher ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windcatcher [wikipedia.org] ). Also, depending on geography you could add natural plants to help provide shade. None of this sounds as sexy as a high-tech AC unit, but it is probably much more cost effective and lower maintenance.

I am not sure what solutions there are for existing buildings, but I would be interested in hearing about some.

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