Mike Dennis – Australia

Thinking beyond the supply side of energy at the starting line. That’s Mike Dennis, a senior research fellow in the Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems in the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science. Instead of a buffet table with food, it’s more like “what would you like?” Demand-oriented, he started thinking along the lines of developing a solar-powered air-conditioning system in 2009.

From his perspective, over the coming decade the air-conditioning industry faces a number of difficult challenges.   He’s referring to banned fluorocarbon refrigerants, carbon pricing and water consumption.

“And then, of course, there is the greenhouse problem.

“Notwithstanding the emissions from electricity consumed by the air-conditioners, the refrigerants circulating in these units are several thousand times more potent greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide.” (click here for further explanation.)

Instead of the conventional air conditioner compressor, his air conditioner units contain solar-powered thermal compressor. Solar power comes in the form of heat, rather than electricity. How?  From conventional solar water heater panels.

It works like an airbrush, except that instead of paint, it ejects refrigerant. He replaced the paint with refrigerant.

Two years of development later? The ANU has been working with commercial partners to develop a prototype. Mike headed the ANU team that successfully developed the “CoolSolar” technology – the result of an AusIndustry cooperative project during 2009-2011.

The final outcome was designed to reduce the cost of solar cooling by hybridizing services to combine summer  cooling with winter heating and solar hot water as a by-product. All from one solar collector. Applications include residential and commercial air conditioning, dairy shed cooling, food & beverage, data centre cooling and the electric car. There are 6,100 dairy farms in Australia and roughly 8 million households in Australia.

Maximum cooling effect when the Sun is at its peak! Mike Dennis also specified that it will prevent blackouts. Listen here to a great interview with him about the key collateral benefits.

So, I assess that there’s one more idiom thrown into the wind. There is something new under the sun.

Sources: Australian National University News, Solar Thermal World, Global Solar Thermal Energy Council, Endless-Solar.com, ABC News, Energy Matters, Green Cross Australia, ecofriend.com




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