Although in the early stages of production, this California-based company is designing a cooling system that they claim will be more efficient than anything used by mankind in over a century. The trick: using radiative cooling.
Radiative cooling has to do with air and water temperature. Basically, if the air around water is not too much above freezing, then the heat emitted by water makes it lower in temperature than the air surrounding it, allowing it to freeze. This is what happens when you see frost or dew on a summer morning.
The problem, though, is that radiative cooling is not possible during the day because of the hotter temperatures. This effect takes place at night. But most of us suffer from extreme heat during the day, not at night. So the goal of this is to find a solution that will allow radiative cooling to be effective during the daytime when it is needed most.
The trick for SkyCool Systems is finding a material that will do this during the day. Raman, one of the three co-founders, says “most materials absorb enough sunlight to totally counteract the cooling effect. That’s the big issue. You couldn’t do it during the day, when you need cooling the most.”
Their product has a very similar look to a solar panel: it is a flat panel made out of metal with a special material covering it. This material reflects both the light and heat of the sun so that the temperature of the panel beneath this film can decrease by 9-18 degrees F lower than the air around it. There is also a system of pipes behind the panel that are exposed to the colder temperature produced, which then cools the fluid inside before it is sent to refrigeration systems.
A modern-day problem of this solution is not scientific, but financial. The way the current market is structured, cooling systems are made to be relatively cheap. Implementing the SkyCool Systems method would require companies to “pay extra to build a new radiative cooling technology into already-inexpensive systems.”
Second to this, the way the current system created by SkyCool is designed, it would actually eliminate the need for air ducts that are already the base of buildings’ infrastructure. Essentially, it would create a cooling ceiling, like the exact opposite of a heated floor.
There is a lot of potential for this to, one day, become its own stand-alone, electricity-free system.
Check out this TEDTalk below to hear from one of the co-founders and learn more about their amazing innovation!