Four space engineers have recently created a zero emission air-conditioning system that won’t pollute the atmosphere when turned on.
This new discovery will significantly lower carbon monoxide emissions and help to combat climate change.
‘Zero carbon buildings’ are now a step closer thanks to the scientists Marie Nghiem, Yannick Godillot, Yann Vitupier and Charles Daniel, who came together at Thales Alenia Space in Cannes, working on sophisticated satellites such as ESA’s Goce gravity-mapper and Europe’s Jason ocean-monitors.
The innovative group built complex telecom and earth observation satellites, using them to create an environmentally friendly alternative to temperature control systems.
Using sunshine instead of electricity to power air conditioning and central heating, their system can also cool fridges and heat water.
Determined to reduce energy consumption, the team drew on their skills in thermal engineering for satellites and their experience of rigorous testing.
“Building a spacecraft is unusually complex,” comments Marie.
“It must function perfectly for 15 years, so our standards have to be extremely high.
“We leave nothing to chance and we test every component meticulously to make sure it will stand the test of time, even in the harshest conditions.”
The unique system uses curved solar mirror-troughs spread across a building’s roof to concentrate the sun’s power on to tubes to heat water to 200C.
The pressurised water enters a secondary unit to provide both cold and hot water. (though how it does that remains confidential).
The emerging water can be set at anywhere between -60C and +65C, which is then circulated to create the required temperatures for the different parts of the building. A water ammonia mixture is used as a refrigerant when temperatures hit below zero.
It can connect with the building’s existing chilled and hot water systems and functions even on a cloudy day thanks to stored energy, or power from other sustainable sources.
“It’s important to understand that we are not generating electricity from solar panels to power traditional air conditioning machines.” added Marie.
“Instead, we are using the Sun’s thermal energy to heat water inside the units and reach the required temperatures.”
What makes the Helioclim version unique is that it can provide cooling down to -60C and heating up to +200C.
This means they can tailor the machines to the requirements of almost any building with sufficient roof space.
Soon, offices, factories and commercial centres (where the temperature can vary from room to room), could be fitted with this new technology – which will significantly improve the environment.
Hospitals and supermarkets – where refrigeration is a must – will also significantly benefit.
The team is already designing thermal units for several customers in Africa and France for installation in 2017.