Green Air Conditioning?

Every summer, we spend countless millions of kilowatts keeping things cool indoors.  This alone constitutes a good chunk of global warming, but we’d swelter, even die, without it.  So far, the most efficient way to cool things down has been the swamp cooler, but that’s only of use in relatively arid locations; Evaporative cooling does no good at all near any large body of water.

In the past, discussions about alternative cooling systems always involved huge sums of money. With all the more recent focus on solar and other renewable energy sources, though, scientists have been focusing their attentions on the problem.  We reported some months back about a MIT professor who had devised a solar-driven hydrogen power plant, for example.  Now Europe is talking about revisiting a cooling technology, modifying the concept to be fueled by the sun.  Could Europe have the solution to a Green air conditioner?

Like everything, it comes down to dollars (or Euros) and sense.  If the technology is better in some ways but costs twice as much to operate, it’s not going to catch on.  If it costs too much initially, again, it’s going to be left behind.  Let’s take a look at this new Euro concept from Thermodyna.

Based in Hamburg, Germany, Thermodyna has a lofty goal: build a household power plant which will make electricity, heat and and cool the air, and do so whenever you need it to. If they succeed, no air conditioner would be necessary at all. At the heart of the notion is what some have dubbed the “Schukey” motor, a solar-powered cool air machine. The operating cost? 5 cents per kilowatt hour, which is more than half, nearly two-thirds lower than conventional AC units.

According to Thermodyna’s Volker Bergholter, the unit employs just two motors, is driven by the sun, (which heats the water into steam, and from there into the energy that powers the cooling system) and turns damp, warm air into a comfortably climatized 68 degrees F. Sound like a pipe dream? Thermodyna has announced availability as early as 2010. This is all the more important, as experts predict that Europe’s demand for AC will increase at least 10 percent by 2020, a direct result of global warming. The Thermodyna unit would reduce CO2 emissions, and decrease the mid-day demand for electricity. Just when the sun’s rays are hottest, these units would be providing relief from the heat.

It’s not cheap. Right now, the cost is about 1500 Euros ($2490) per kilowatt. But the manufacturer is hoping to slash that by two-thirds within the next decade, and then they’d be even up with conventional technology. Idealists to the end, Bergholter says “In the short term we could bring about a revolution” with the Schukey motor. We tend to agree. What do you think?


5 Responses to “Green Air Conditioning?”

  1. kurt on July 14th, 2009 6:46 pm

    sounds like a plan. only thing that worries me: americans will not be able to understand the necessity of new technology. check this out: after gas prices fell below $ 2.50 after almost 4 dollars, the ‘go green’ people jumped in their Toyota Prius just to trade it it for a brandnew Chevy Suburban. Cheers.
    no chance for Schukey, at least not in the US.
    Europe will once more take the lead and nobody here detects it.
    Cheers again

  2. Climatarians on November 13th, 2009 5:05 am

    Green air-conditioning is really a cool thing! Its time we focused on alternate and renewable sources of energy. Part of the problem is resistance to change. Another problem is the costs involved, at least initially. If the technology gains acceptance widely, then costs would come down dramatically. At Climatarians, we run a global sustainability directory that addresses many of these issues.

  3. Plano Air Conditioning on March 22nd, 2010 4:22 pm

    This Schukey motor sounds great! With utility bills on the rise all the time, a technology like this would pay off over the long run. Like all new technology it is always more expensive at the start for the early adopters, but will then come down for a mass market.


  4. francoslicer on September 7th, 2010 12:53 am

    we know using air conditioners are creating some environmental problems in the is the time to create and develop the alternative cooling system projects to reduce the global my opinion developed countries like america and germen y are not focusing on alternative cooling systems.i agree with them alternative methods would require high costs. but it is require to improve our environmental conditions in our world.

  5. Randy on September 19th, 2011 10:02 am

    I think it’s great to see people reaching out for newer alternatives of going green.
    We can view this as being a great thing that might not happen because of list a things. Regardless, money is always an issue. Green will always have a high price on newer concepts of ideas, due to it’s need of funding. People have a hard time buying pricing things and way things are now for most people it’s tough. I have to say I’m glad to see people devoting their time to change everyday living into something cleaner. We always expect our future to be a little more intuitive with things getting easier and always cutting time off working and adding to relaxing.
    We will go in these directions no matter what it’s just a matter of when. This subject can open a new horizon for all of man kind in creating new jobs ,better living for our families and hopefully a cleaner earth which is home to all. So support going green cause thats earths only hope, everything else won’t matter if we keep the life styles we have now. People need to be self reliant on themselves and not on others when power gos out or when a water line breaks. There are alternatives and they come from people who care to change and an idea like this one can literally make a world of difference. I would like to be on the greener side of things and I would that everyone would too.

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