In this period of high heat, air conditioners are essential for many people to avoid melting in their homes. Unfortunately, reconditioned air technologies are also very polluting.
Air conditioning contributes to global warming to the tune of 4% of total greenhouse gas emissions, according to an analysis by the Xerox Research Center and the US Department of Energy. And unfortunately, these emissions will increase as air conditioners multiply… to combat the effects of global warming! It’s an infernal circle.
A clever and non-polluting desiccant
However, there are future technologies to cool and dehumidify the ambient air, while reducing the carbon footprint of air conditioners. One of them, developed by Blue Frontier, caught the attention of Breakthrough Energy Ventures, an investment fund owned by Bill Gates. This fund participated in the Blue Frontier seed round, which raised $20 million.
The main innovation of this company is to use liquid desiccants, chemicals with a lower level of vapor pressure than water. The liquid retains moisture in the air, which improves overall air quality and contributes to a healthier indoor environment.
Blue Frontier uses a little refrigerant, a product that contributes to global warming. Nevertheless, the company explains that the refrigerant is never in contact with the air that enters the building. It is actually not used for cooling but for the operations of the heat pump which regulates the concentration of salt in the liquid desiccant.
The liquid desiccant is stored in small plastic tanks placed in the air conditioning machines. When it is necessary to cool the air, the machine draws from these reservoirs, reducing in the process the use of energy which can come from a polluting source. The first tests of this technology will begin this year, with the first commercial product expected to be marketed in 2025.