The development of radiative cooling systems could eventually have a major impact on global energy consumption
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Spotted: California-based company SkyCool is developing a cooling system with roots going back hundreds of years to the Middle East and India. It uses radiative cooling, an energy-efficient process that essentially sends excessive heat into outer space.
While at Stanford University, SkyCool’s co-founders Shanhui Fan, Eli Goldstein and Aaswath Raman invented a film-like material that facilitates the radiative cooling process. A flat metal panel covered in this film reflects the light and heat of the sun, dropping the temperature behind the panel between 5 to 10 degrees Celsius lower than the air around it. When a system of fluid-filled pipes behind the panel is exposed to the colder air, the fluid cools down before it’s sent to a current refrigeration system.
There are currently five pilot programmes in progress to test the effectiveness of the concept. Researchers at the University of Buffalo are working on streamlining the emissions process to make it useful in urban settings. It is still undetermined how long before the technology can be implemented on a large scale.
Springwise has spotted other innovations that are working toward energy-efficient cooling systems. Swedish scientists have developed a solar film that could reduce the need for heating systems and air conditioning, while Husos Arquitectos has designed self-cooling apartments.