news hardware Bill Gates invests in the air conditioning of the future to fight global warming
As temperatures on Earth continue to rise, more and more air conditioners are being used to compensate, worsening the ecological situation. A startup funded by Bill Gates may have found the solution with new air conditioning technology.
Air conditioning, a vicious circle waiting for a solution
according to a NREL study (US National Research Laboratory for Renewable Energy), Air conditioning accounts for about 4% of the world’s total greenhouse gases, or 1.95 million tons of carbon dioxide per year. divided evenly between air conditioning and humidity control. The first is an obvious cause, to say the least, but the second has long eluded scientific research.
The real problem is the very diverse functions of dehumidifiers, which make them indispensable. Although high humidity causes an uncomfortable feeling, it can also lead to damage to buildings and the formation of mold.
If indoor humidistat use is an environmental disaster, it’s for three main reasons:
- Household appliances consume a lot of electricity
- To remove moisture and provide air conditioning, a vapor compression technique is used, which requires the use and rejection of components containing CFCs, a type of molecule derived from fluorinated gases and directly responsible for ozone depletion.
- The manufacture and delivery of these devices contributes significantly to the production of greenhouse gases.
Today, CO2 production is balanced between the energy consumption of air conditioning and the release of CFCs, the latter likely to increase over the years due to emerging countries such as China, India or Indonesia increasingly resorting to this type of technology. This is a positive for their comfort, but a negative for the rest of the planet.
What the NREL report states is that there is no real solution around the climate and humidity control system that we have been using for decades. It is imperative to find sustainable and less consuming alternatives. That’s maybe what this Tennessee startup found out.
Two startups and Bill Gates as reinforcements to develop the air conditioning of tomorrow
While observing the negative consequences and limitations of the current air conditioning method, we can already glimpse a new technology that should become more and more widespread. It is the NREL that is the instigator and is allied with two American startups: Emerson and Blue Frontier.
Blue Frontier just reached its $20 million investment goal, funded primarily by Bill Gates, the former CEO of Microsoft. But what is this method?
First, the research team looked for a way to combat anthrax, a naturally occurring soil infectious disease that could be used as a biological weapon for terrorists. This bacterium consists of liquid desiccants, a compound that is easier to pressurize than water. Thus, far fewer CFCs are needed to compress the vapor and thus dehumidify and air condition a space.
The result of this strategy: requires between a third and a quarter the amount of CFC components to operate to reduce the impact on global warming by 85%. Finally, the efficiency of the whole process is improved by 40% to reduce the CO2 production related to air conditioning and dehumidification worldwide by 42% in 2050. This corresponds to an avoidance of 2460 tons per year.
Although the project is not yet complete, there are already test devices in 2022, for installation in commercial buildings in 2025 and in private homes in 2026.