Hello everyone, I hope you all are doing great. In today’s tutorial, we will have a look at the Air Conditioning revolution brought by HVAC. Air conditioning is a mainstream engineering wonder, and much of the world relies on their HVAC for comfort and day-to-day living. Unfortunately, as a study in the Journal of Energy and Buildings found, HVAC systems come with a high environmental cost amounting to 40% of energy consumption in all residential sectors. This comes chiefly from heat transfer, but also from air cleaning processes and lost energy. Clearly, huge efficiencies need to be found in the HVAC/air conditioning sector – and innovation is providing.
The air we breathe
A large component of the inefficiency of HVAC is through the air filtration it undertakes. As outlined by Consumer Reports, air purifiers have a high energy cost when run consistently – and HVAC will often have them running throughout the year. Technology often achieves progress through miniaturization, and the same is true with HVAC. New 16x20x1 air filters and similar configurations work with HEPA technology to provide air filtration in a more efficient and less cumbersome way than current filter types. This means less need for strong airflow, less work for the HVAC system, and less energy input overall – meaning a more environmentally friendly solution.
The heat exchange
The other energy-costly component of HVAC is heat exchange. New innovation could lead to a huge overhaul in how this process is conducted. This, in turn, will lead to more efficiency and a lower carbon footprint for HVAC systems.
A report by Brown University in Phys.org outlined the use of an organic solvent that could help to rapidly convert water temperatures, boosting heat transfer capacity by 500%. This means that the energy requirements of HVAC systems can be vastly reduced. While work remains to be done to achieve the engineering framework required to make this work, it is “on its way.” Noting that other methods, such as antiparticle additives, are about a 10 th as effective as this, Phys.org reckon that these new methods of operating the internal systems of an HVAC could have a transformative effect on the energy requirements of the industry – if mass produced.
Moving away from HVAC
What about other methods for cooling the air? Increasingly, airflow management in new build homes is being developed through integrated engineering. The Harvard HouseZero eschews the use of expensive HVAC in favour of low-energy integrated sensors within the home that can detect and calculate how best to address heat fluctuations. Using sophisticated air modeling and flow algorithms, it might open a window in a seemingly unrelated part of the home to cool a different room, and close it for the converse. Smart engineering may ultimately render the need for HVAC unnecessary, as homes can be effectively conditioned using only warm (or cold) outside airflow.
For the time being, however, HVAC is king, and finding efficiencies within its build will be important to maintain comfort while tackling climate change. Fortunately, there is clearly a lot going on already. This is the case, whether it be in simple replacement of inefficient filters or micro-scale heat exchange engineering.