Imagine an HVAC system that could reduce energy costs by 50-75%. An AC unit that did not use the typical condenser that all HVAC systems use today. Sound too good to be true? Well, if you consider that current air conditioning technology is quite old, much like our beloved, yet wasteful combustion engine that has been chugging away for a century–the condenser-based AC units installed today are due for an energy efficiency upgrade.
We discovered a very interesting article about a possible shift in HVAC core technology that could replace the current, old, technology. Cnet’s Martin LaMonica reports on new desiccant-driven air conditioners by startup 7AC Technologies. See below for link to original story.
“By using a liquid dessicant to remove humidity from air, 7AC Technologies claims it can cut cooling costs by 50 percent to 75 percent and heating costs by about 50 percent. The company has a prototype in its lab and plans to beta test its efficient air conditioner with customers next spring, he [Vandermeulen, 7AC CEO] said. Eventually, it intends to make a residential system, too, Vandermeulen said.”
Bye, bye condenser…
So instead of a condenser removing the moisture from the air, dessicant is used. What’s a dessicant? Simply put, a dessicant keeps things dry. You know the little packets that come in a variety of products that say “Do Not Eat”? Those are a form of dessicant used to keep the air inside the package dry.
Mr. LaMonica goes on to explain the details of the “salt-driven air conditioner”:
“7AC Technologies’ air conditioner is designed around a series of flat, multi-layered plastic plates covered with a proprietary membrane licensed from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. With water flowing inside each plate, a solution of salt water is sprayed over the surface of the plate. As the salt solution rolls down the surface of the plates, it attracts water vapor from humid air.”
Is this the future of HVAC?
It will be very interesting to keep an eye on 7AC in the coming years. Is this the technology that could drive the HVAC industry in the future? Much like the typical car today with its combustion engine, HVAC technology in its current form is quite old. 7AC’s website has a few golden stats right on the home page:
1. “Current HVAC solutions are inefficient.”
2. “Almost 100% of the market is based on 100 year old technology.”
3. “HVAC is typically 60% of building operating costs.”
Similar to the way battery powered cars will one day overtake the 100 year old combustion engine, maybe the desiccant air conditioner will bid farewell to the condenser-based AC units in use today.