One of the most significant concerns when constructing a building is optimizing its cooling process. For several years, innovators have been trying to create green energy solutions to this problem.
The warmer the Earth gets, the more we use air conditioners. These air conditioners contribute to a to greenhouse gas feedback loop. The energy needed to power air conditioners emits greenhouse gas emissions (and potentially HFCs), and the warmer our planet gets, the more we are going to need cooling systems. Thus, more greenhouse gases will be produced, and the feedback loop continues.
According to a report, air conditioning and refrigeration systems consume 17% of electricity generated worldwide, and they are responsible for 8% of greenhouse gas emissions (SkyCool).
So, what is SkyCool and how are they trying to mitigate this problem?
SkyCool is a Silicon Valley startup that is utilizing natural cooling phenomenon to cool down buildings. In a recent article by CloudWedge.com, Aaswath Rahaman (one of the co-founders) disclosed that he wants to implement his green energy cooling project on a much larger, commercial basis.
Depending on the application and climate conditions, SkyCool claims that it can increase the energy efficiency of a building by about 15-35%, therefore reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the process.
How does it Work?
SkyCool plans to use the cold darkness of outer space to improve building-cooling processes on Earth. In simple terms, SkyCool has invented a system of what is essentially high-tech mirrors that can constantly beam heat into outer space, in a process termed as sky cooling.
The science is a bit hard to understand, but according to MIT Technology Review, “All objects give off heat in the form of infrared radiation, an invisible form of light just to the right of red on the spectrum. The point of jackets, mittens, and scarves is to retain as much of that radiant heat as possible, keeping us warm on winter days. The atmosphere itself, mainly in the form of water molecules, also radiates back a portion of the heat.”
“But a sliver of emissions in the mid-infrared range (with wavelengths between eight and 13 micrometers, for those keeping score) slips through, escaping through what has been described as a “window into space.” Materials emitting radiation in that range literally cast it into the cold expanses of space, or at least the cool upper atmosphere, allowing the surfaces themselves to dip below the temperature of the surrounding air.”
SkyCool has recently completed a field trial in Davis, California where they have built fluid cooling panels that cool water using a their special material. These panels can be integrated with already existing cooling systems to improve their existing efficiency by 12%. Over the next year or two, they plan to take this technology to the market and re-innovate today’s cooling systems.
You can learn more about this technology in this TED Talk by co-founder Aaswath Rahaman:
Let’s look at how a natural cooling system built by SkyCool will make the world a better place to live.
Less Global Warming
Human activity is overloading our environment by the emission of harmful greenhouse gases. Most of these harmful gases are created by the energy sector.
In contrast, using renewable energy sources contributes very few greenhouse gas emissions, and is much better for the environment. Implementing these natural, renewable methods of cooling a building on a large scale will allow us to replace these carbon-intensive energy sources.
Within the scientific community, there is no debate when it comes to the topic of global warming. Everyone believes it is happening, and carbon emission is the primary cause. 2016 was the hottest year on record and the 12 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998.
Better Public Health
Right now, the most common method of cooling an indoor space is by the use of a traditional air conditioner. Because of the way they work, these air conditioners can emit harmful gases into the environment and are one of the leading causes of air pollution. In comparison, natural energy sources don’t emit any toxic gases as they use natural phenomenon like wind, sun and water to produce energy.
The efficiency of these cooling systems not only saves the consumer a lot of money, but it also saves a lot of energy that would otherwise be wasted. By implementing natural cooling methods, SkyCool reduces the need for additional energy investments in non-renewable sources of energy as the energy supplied to these buildings can be used elsewhere.
With so many inexhaustible ways nature has provided us to meet our needs, we need to invest in these sources. Companies like SkyCool are continuously studying our surroundings to improve how we harness energy and implement them in our daily life. With SkyCool going commercial, we will have an opportunity to integrate their energy-efficient method of cooling in our daily lives and save this pale blue dot that we call our home.