Cool technology uses the sun

By Adam Coleman

New solar-powered residential air conditioning technology being developed at the Australian National University (ANU) could relieve pressure on Australia’s electricity infrastructure and reduce summer’s power demands.

Dr Mike Dennis from the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science is developing a new solar air-conditioning system that replaces the electrical compressor in a conventional air-conditioner with a solar powered thermal compressor.

“The air-conditioner is very similar to a household split-system with which most people are familiar, except for the power source,” he said.

Dr Dennis believes that peak period power shortages are just around the corner for Australia, particularly in times of peak use in the hotter months. He also said that the refrigerants in traditional air-conditioners units are an environmental threat.

These were clear incentives for Dr Dennis to develop sustainable residential air-conditioning and the obvious solution to him was solar.

“The sun shines when we need to cool and Australia has an excellent solar resource,” he said.

An extensive two-year commercially driven development program will begin this year, with commercial and manufacturing issues expected to be addressed in 2010.

Dr Dennis says the unit will have no potent chemicals and will be inexpensive to manufacture.

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