C&B Notes

“Cool” Innovation

Air conditioning has had an enormous impact on health, land use, worker productivity, and general comfort (as Alabama residents we rejoice!).  As air conditioning turns 110 this year, innovations are promising to significantly improve energy efficiency.  We expect this will help make “A/C technology” more accessible to emerging middle classes in developing economies.

As Stan Cox points out in his book, “Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World”, America uses more energy for air conditioning than Africa uses for everything.  Enter Advantix Systems, a firm that makes air-conditioning systems that consume 30-50% less energy than conventional ones.

Many air conditioners work something like this.  First, cool the air to well below the desired room temperature. Then, blow it over a metal plate to make the moisture in it condense (and rain on the heads of passers-by, if the cooler is in New York).  Then, warm the dry air back up to the desired temperature.

Advantix’s “liquid desiccant” technology, by contrast, passes the air through a brine solution to dehumidify it, without the need to waste energy overcooling it.  Its machines are especially effective in humid places, which is where much of the world’s growth is.