Decarbonization and the HFC phasedown are spawning innovation in the HVAC industry.
The current environmental trend right now is electrification, which is part of a broader global strategy to decarbonize economies around the world. In the U.S., the federal government, along with numerous states, has pledged to aggressively reduce — and potentially eliminate — carbon emissions over the next few decades. This typically involves encouraging Americans to replace their fossil fuel appliances like gas furnaces with electric heat pumps. But most heat pumps and air conditioners currently use R-410A refrigerant — or even R-22 in older units — which is a high-GWP HFC that the federal government is in the process of phasing down.
In response to this conundrum, a raft of so-called “clean tech” startups and other research groups are looking for ways to reduce carbon and refrigerant emissions through the use of new cooling technologies. The result is a number of promising innovations, which could bring significant changes to the HVAC industry.
One such startup is Blue Frontier in Boca Raton, Florida, which recently made headlines when Bill Gates’ clean energy investment fund, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, announced it was spearheading a $20 million investment to accelerate new company’s ability to bring its “ultra-efficient sustainable air conditioning technology” to market. According to Blue Frontier’s owner and founder, Dr. Daniel Betts, this investment will help the company realize its goal of significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions by decarbonizing building cooling.
Blue Frontier Air Conditioning System.
NEW SYSTEM: A prototype of Blue Frontier’s new air conditioning system, which is expected to be commercially available in 2025. (Courtesy of Blue Frontier)
“Blue Frontier solves the problem of the high energy and power consumption of traditional air conditioning and the increasingly high climate change impact due to that energy consumption,” he said.
“Blue Frontier air conditioners consume 50% to 90% less energy and also store energy at a fraction of the cost of batteries, so that low-cost, low-emission electricity can be used to provide cooling during evening peak load times.”
Blue Frontier’s packaged rooftop air conditioner contains a novel heat exchanger that both cools and dehumidifies air through the use of a salt solution (liquid desiccant) that removes humidity from the air without increasing its temperature, explained Betts. This dry air can then be cooled through the indirect evaporative cooling process, which separates about 30% of the dry air, flows it adjacent to the rest of the air within the heat exchanger, and subjects it to evaporative cooling. This process cools down the 70% remaining bulk air without increasing its humidity, creating conditioned, low-humidity air.
Click here to read full article - By Joanna R. Turpin, ACHR NEWS