Keeping cool using the summer heat

Jan 23, 2009
Internal heating element from CSIRO designed Climate Testing Rig. Image: CSIRO

(PhysOrg.com) -- While most Australians are taking care to shield themselves from the harsh summer heat, scientists from the CSIRO Energy Transformed Flagship are working on ways to harness the sun’s warmth to cool our homes and offices.

The leader of the Flagship’s solar cooling research project, Dr Stephen White, says significant greenhouse gas savings can be achieved in air conditioning by using energy from the sun.

“Solar cooling utilises heat from solar thermal collectors to generate cooling for building air-conditioning,” he says.

“Most conventional mechanical air conditioners use high-emission electricity derived from fossil fuels to provide the energy to compress a refrigerant and cool a building. This typically accounts for 20-30 per cent of building energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.”

Solar cooling consumes less electricity when compared to a conventional mechanical air conditioner and lower electricity consumption results in lower greenhouse gas emissions.

“The solar cooling technology we are developing directly uses the natural heat from the sun to power a thermally-driven cooling process,” he says.

“While using heat to cool sounds like a strange concept, the technology we are developing is able use that heat in conjunction with an absorbent material - or desiccant - to dehumidify and cool air. This new type of desiccant cooling promises to be simpler and more cost effective than absorption chillers.”

Sunshine is perhaps the nation’s most abundant renewable resource with Australia experiencing the highest incidence of solar radiation in the world. Coincidentally, on those days when the sun is shining the brightest, demand for air conditioning is at its highest.

“In this way, solar cooling has the potential to reduce peak demand on the electricity grid by reducing the amount of electricity that is required to meet those air conditioning demands on the hottest days of the Australian summer,” Dr White says.

“Solar cooling technology is uniquely suited to our climate and as the technology develops, it is likely to make an important contribution to the development of future zero-emissions buildings.”

Provided by CSIRO

Explore further: After nuclear phase-out, Germany debates scrapping coal

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Senators get no clear answers on air bag safety

3 hours ago

There were apologies and long-winded explanations, but after nearly four hours of testimony about exploding Takata air bags, senators never got a clear answer to the question most people have: whether or ...

Nicaragua: Studies say canal impact to be minimal

3 hours ago

Officials said Thursday that studies have determined a $40 billion inter-oceanic canal across Nicaragua will have minimal impact on the environment and society, and construction is to begin next month.

Former Brown dean whose group won Nobel Prize dies

4 hours ago

David Greer, a doctor who co-founded a group that won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize for working to prevent nuclear war and who helped transform the medical school at Brown University, has died. He was 89.

Recommended for you

New battery technology for electric vehicles

Nov 21, 2014

Scientists at the Canadian Light Source are on the forefront of battery technology using cheaper materials with higher energy and better recharging rates that make them ideal for electric vehicles (EVs).

Company powers up with food waste

Nov 19, 2014

Garden products company Richgro is using Western Australian food waste to power their operations in a new zero-waste system.

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

jonnyboy
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 24, 2009
High on propaganda

Low on details
DGBEACH
not rated yet Jan 24, 2009
Why not use a sterling engine to compress the coolant instead of electricity? Sterling engines LOVE the sun :)
Royale
not rated yet Aug 15, 2009
Tis a neat idea.. I hope they make something out of it.. heat is so easy to create, it's the absence of heat that's the problem..

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.