An air conditioning system that offers zero emissions, cools the house with water and is powered by natural gas was getting attention this week at CES.
Jenny McGrath, Digital Trends, wrote about the “giant reflective cube” on the show floor. From that cube, coolant is pumped into the module and distributed to wall units throughout the home. In this AC system, pure water is the refrigerant.
“And since it never leaves the sealed operating chamber, there are no emissions connected to the cooling phase whatsoever,” said John Raidt at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, in a blog.
The system uses only about 10 percent of the electricity that a vapor compression air conditioner of the same size uses, said Digital Trends.
(“Air conditioning units require a huge amount of electricity and harmful chemicals to keep homes cool, remarked Katie Collins in CNET.)
The Malvern, Pennsylvania, company said, “Traditional air conditioning units account for almost half the electricity used in homes during the summer.”
This is a departure from ordinary air conditioning. Refrigerants are not great for the environment; air conditioners release carbon dioxide.
“A traditional air conditioner uses a refrigerant that transitions between liquid and gas, absorbing and releasing heat over and over again. The cold air gets pumped into the house, while the excess heat is routed outdoors,” said McGrath.
Enter OxiCool which says it is using “pure water” as the only refrigerant. Noisy? No. It is described by the makers as “incredibly silent.” McGrath said it’s in a “closed-loop system,” where “the cube should have just as much water on day 500 as on day one.”Play01:3503:52SettingsEnter fullscreen
An open flame heats natural gas to boil the water in a vacuum chamber while molecular sieves capture the excess H2O vapor, reducing the pressure inside, said Digital Trends. “Fans and condensers cool the vapor to return it to its liquid form, starting the cycle over again.”
Molecular sieves? According to the company site, “OxiCool is powered by OxiCell. OxiCells are closed loop, maintenance free molecular sieve cells that are manufactured to precision in a clean room. Not even a single water molecule can escape through the life of the system.”
CNET said, “At the end of the unit’s life, Oxicool said, water comes out that you could drink, and every part of the device is recyclable.”
OxiCool leaves strong messages on their site that a guiding principle in their work is making it possible for the eco-conscious to enjoy an air conditioner that is emissions-free. CNET quoted the founder of OxiCool. “I think we are a tenant on this planet,” said Ravikant Barot, founder and CEO. “We need to leave it in a good shape.”
But, cooling off in an environmentally friendly way, at what price? “Because it’s also using natural gas, there will be an added cost, but the company said its operating cost should be around half of similarly sized units,” said Digital Trends.
Taking a longer view toward the environment, this is what the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation blog had to say back in November: “The world presently has about 1.8 billion AC units in operation, the vast majority in three countries: the U.S., China, and Japan.
With the world growing hotter by the day, it is estimated that just by 2050 that number will grow to around 6 billion units the world over. The stakes literally cannot be higher.”
What’s next? The company site said pre orders were to begin on Jan. 10.
The company site said that “In the near future solar thermal energy will be an option as well.”
he OxiCool looks like a Martian playhouse, but its unique technology can actually cool your whole house with a little bit of water and natural gas.
A traditional air conditioner uses a refrigerant that transitions between liquid and gas, absorbing and releasing heat over and over again. The cold air gets pumped into the house, while the excess heat is routed outdoors. Refrigerants aren’t great for the environment and air conditioners release carbon dioxide.
The OxiCool uses water as a refrigerant, instead. While the OxiCool works similar to a vapor compression system, it doesn’t use a compressor. It’s a closed-loop system, meaning the cube should have just as much water on day 500 as on day one.
If you boil a pot of water but leave the top off, you’ll release steam into the air. Putting the lid on increases the pressure inside, because the steam can’t escape. With the OxiCool, an open flame heats natural gas to boil the water in a vacuum chamber, and molecular sieves capture the excess H2O vapor, reducing the pressure inside. Fans and condensers cool the vapor to return it to its liquid form, starting the cycle over again.
From the large, outdoor cube, coolant is pumped into the module and distributed to wall units throughout the home. These “Home Cool” devices have touchscreens and can control other units spread through the house.
The system uses about 10% of the electricity a vapor compression air conditioner of the same size uses. Because it’s also using natural gas, there will be an added cost, but the company said its operating cost should be around half of similarly sized units. It can be retrofitted into existing ductwork as well. OxiCool is looking into other sources of heat to vaporize the water, including hydrogen and solar thermal energy.
The outdoor unit is large, around 5 feet tall. It’s not a system for city dwellers at the moment. Pricing also won’t be available until the system is available for pre-order on January 10.
Those who have space and want to go a bit more off-grid may get the benefit of emission-free AC, though the mirrored cube and Home Cools will definitely signal a departure from ordinary air conditioning. Eventually, along with introducing alternative fuel sources, OxiCool might reduce the footprint.