There are hot spots around the world where cooling systems are essential but lack the infrastructure to operate them. Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology I developed a solution to this problem – a passive cooling system that does not consume electricity. How is this even possible?
Advanced cooling system for the world’s hottest and poorest regions
Building on their previous research, MIT engineers developed a system that combines evaporative cooling, radiative cooling, and thermal insulation. Allows you to cool down by 10.5AroundC of ambient temperature and is in the form of a plate divided into three layers of different materials.
The board itself can be placed over or around an item to be cooled, for example a container containing perishable goods (food or medicine). MIT experts assert that this technology can allow food to be safely stored for approximately 40% more than in highly humid conditions or triple the safe storage time in dry conditions. It can also be used to cool the water used in air conditioners, making the units use less energy while still maintaining the same efficiency.
The bottom of the device is made of a mirror-like material that reflects incoming solar radiation. Inside there is a porous hydrogel consisting mostly of water – when heated it evaporates as vapor that rises to the upper layer.
This top layer is a type of airgel, and consists mainly of air pockets hidden in the cavities of polyethylene. Both water vapor and reflected infrared radiation are able to pass through the antenna, providing evaporative and radiative cooling, respectively.
The antenna also acts as an insulating layer, keeping ambient heat out of the body below. In addition, like the undercoat, it is also very resistant to sunlight. Unfortunately, its production is currently very expensive – future research will focus on ways to reduce the cost of producing aerosols. The rest of the materials used in the system are “easily available and relatively inexpensive”.
Maintenance of the device will consist only of adding more water to the hydrogel, which presumably will only need to be done once every four days in an extremely dry and hot environment, or only once a month in wetter areas. You can read more about the unusual cooling system in the magazine Cell Reports Physical Sciences.
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