A Colorado air conditioning manufacturer is making news with a product line that might revolutionize how Americans cool their homes and businesses.
Coolerado Corporation based in Denver has developed air conditioners based on the Maisotsenko Cycle (M-Cycle) which it describes as a “newly developed” thermodynamic process.
Ordinary AC units are of two types; refrigerant or evaporative. The former operates in the same way as a refrigerator, pulling heated air from a room, across a refrigerated coil containing a chemical refrigerant and pumping the cooled air back into the room. Evaporative coolers (or swamp coolers) use a blower to force hot air through a water soaked pad. The water evaporates, carrying the heat with it and the air, now carrying some of that water, is passed back into the room. An indirect evaporative cooler has a secondary heat exchanger which captures some of the humidity from the cooled air before it is returned to the room.
Refrigeration style air conditioning dries the air that it cools – an advantage in humid climates, not so much in desert regions – and is a closed system that continually recycles the same air.
Evaporation types of air conditioning increase the amount of moisture in the air which can be uncomfortable and lead to problems with excess moisture and mildew. New outside air, however, is brought into the system.
Traditional air conditioners are much more expensive to purchase and install than evaporative coolers and require the use of coolants, a series of which have been banned over the years as they have been found to negatively affect the atmosphere. Evaporative coolers do not require these coolants and require much less electricity to operate.
Coolerado’s air conditioners work on the same basic model as evaporative coolers, drawing fresh air into the unit with a fan where it is filtered of dust and allergens and enters into a series of Heat Mass Exchangers (HMXs) consisting of several plates of a special plastic that wicks water evenly on one wide and transfers heat through the other side. These plates are stacked and separated by channels that guide air movement, dividing the air stream into “product air” and “working air.”
The product air stays within dry channels the entire length of the exchanger where it is cooled as it passes through the exchangers and into the space designated for cooling. The working air initially enters dry channels where it is pre-cooled, divided into multiple streams and directed into wet channels. The heat from the product air is transferred to the working air in the wet channels by means of evaporation (mass transfer and state change) before the working air is ejected into the atmosphere.
Because the product air and the working air are kept separate, the process does not add humidity to the product air, neither does it remove it. The heat transfer process occurs multiple times in a short physical space within the exchanger, resulting in progressively colder product and working air temperatures.
We have already mentioned two of the advantages Coolerado claims over traditional air conditioning; it delivers fresh, filtered air from the outside rather than recirculating air, and it uses no potentially harmful refrigerants. However, if the manufacturer’s claims are correct, the process has two other huge advantages over conventional types of air conditioning.
First, it cools better. Scientists use a measure called the wet bulb temperature in an atmosphere containing a combination of gas and vapor, typically air and water. The thermodynamic wet-bulb temperature is the minimum temperature which may be achieved by purely evaporative cooling of a water-wetted (or ice-covered), ventilated surface. Conventional wisdom says that the most air temperature can be reduced using evaporative cooling is around 20° F. Coolerado can drop the wet bulb temperature 100° in a unit measuring 13 inches.
And the energy savings are staggering. A Coolerado system will cool the same space as the most efficient traditional AC system while using only 10 percent of the energy. The company’s publicity materials maintain that a 3,000 square foot building can be cooled by a single unit using 1/3 the energy of a standard hair dryer. This energy efficiency also means decreased demand on the power grid and fewer carbon emissions from energy generation.
It also means that the system can be tied into home or commercial solar energy panels or can be operated off of a small photovoltaic system of its own. This has tremendous implications for countries in the Middle East as well as our own desert southwest.
Coolerado is just getting off the ground and its products are currently available only through distributors in ten Western states. The unit, however, seems unbelievably simple and could probably be installed by any competent HVAC contractor if shipped to the site. We were not able to determine a price but the manufacturer claims that its units cost about the same as traditional high-end products.
And we have to give the company bonus points for its name