Advanced Heat Exchanger
Typical air conditioning units use fluorocarbon refrigerants as a coolant. When leaked, this coolant can lessen the efficiency of an AC system and cause great harm to the environment. Unfortunately, 50-80% of today's air conditioners and heat pumps leak around 10% of their refrigerant annually. When you think about that number in regard to how many air conditioning units are spread across the US, you realize the severity of this problem. Not only is it wasting money and making AC units work harder, but it's also doing immense damage to the atmosphere. Optimized Thermal Systems, together with Heat Transfer Technologies, is working to reduce that number significantly. They're developing a manufacturing procedure for a serpentine heat exchanger for heat, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems that consists of 90% fewer joints than current heat exchangers. Most leaked refrigerant seeps out through the joints. With 90% few joints, this new heat exchanger would provide fewer opportunities for leakage. Reducing leaks by 90% will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase performance of the unit, and make the unit more energy efficient. This project has a projected end date in early 2020.
Water Heater / Dehumidifier / Air Conditioner
As a whole, our society loves when a product has multiple purposes. Our smartphones are also cameras and calculators, gaming consoles play movies and allow us access to Netflix, and our watches also track our steps. That multi-purpose technology is now being implemented into the world of HVAC systems. The University of Florida has begun work to develop a prototype that functions as a combination water heater, dehumidifier, and air conditioner. This prototype would offer numerous benefits, including enhanced dehumidification control in residential buildings, health benefits, and significant energy savings. It works by dehumidifying the air and using its energy for water heating. That water can then be pushed back into the dried air in an evaporative cooling process. If cooling is not needed, the water can simply be drained from the system. The project began its early stages in 2016. The group hopes to launch their first product in 2020.
United Technologies Research Center in Connecticut is working to create a solid-state heat pump that will replace refrigerant-based vapor compression systems. The technology behind this new heat pump will make it more reliable than current heat pumps, due to its simplistic mechanical design. It's also extremely energy efficient, resulting in annual energy savings of more than 1.5 quads. The pump is both smaller and quieter than your average model, making its design extremely appealing. Small and sleek technology has been popular for decades now, with phones and TV's growing thinner, watch faces growing smaller, and laptops replacing PCs in many homes. Now, we are poised to enter an age of smaller, less bulky AC units. Less noise emission also makes this heat pump a comforting choice, since won't have to worry about wearing earplugs to drown out the noise from an AC unit located near your window. And, let's not forget what eliminating refrigerant-based vapor systems means for the planet.
Membrane-Based Rooftop Air Conditioner
A membrane-based rooftop AC sounds like something straight out of a Sci-Fi novel, but it's actually quite inventive and entirely of this world. The technology behind it comes from Dais Analytic in Florida and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The NanoAir HVAC technology utilizes water molecules to give independent control of humidity and temperature while simultaneously eliminating the need for environmentally harmful refrigerants. This technology not only improves the atmosphere by utilizing natural resources instead of harsh chemicals, but it also reduces electric consumption by 30-50%, making it remarkably Eco-Friendly and good for your wallet.
Energy Storage System
One thing we as a society, can do to decrease global warming effects is use more renewable energy. The final AC advancement on our list is doing just that. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in partnership with Georgia Tech and IntelliChoice Energy have created a Ground-Level Integrated Diverse Energy Storage (GLIDES) system. When integrated with HVAC systems, GLIDES provides several remarkable benefits. This first of which is that it uses low-grade heat, which is lost in traditional HVAC systems. This advanced technology allows the system to utilize resources which are already available to it. This has a domino effect. Using the low-grade heat helps increase the efficiency of energy storage, which then reduces the energy requirements of the AC system. This means HVAC performance is increased, and you save an estimated 1.3 quads annually.