EnergyEngineers develop electricity-free home cooling system

Published 4 September 2012

Researchers are developing a solar cooling and heating system for the home which will run independently of the electricity grid and generate domestic hot water as a by-product

A QUT researcher is developing a solar cooling and heating system for the home which will run independently of the electricity grid and generate domestic hot water as a by-product.

Paolo Corrada, a Ph.D. student at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) said the system he has designed cuts energy consumption by 90 percent. “My target is to make it 100 percent so that the system is self-sufficient to run off the main grid, costing the home owners nothing to run,” Corrada said.

Heating and cooling account for about 65 percent of energy consumption in a house, whereas cooking accounts for only 6 percent so it is easy to see why air conditioning devices are the main targets to reduce our energy consumption.”

A QUT release quotes him to say that the system is based on the use of an absorption chiller which is a well-proven, efficient technology. “An absorption chiller uses a chemical process to reject heat and, when using waste heat or heat generated by renewable energy, is more effective than the more common mechanical process of vapor compression at deflecting heat,” he said.

By using renewable energy from the sun we are providing an excellent technology to slash power consumption and the peak demand, especially in subtropical remote areas. The design is revolutionary because it incorporates also a desiccant wheel to remove moisture from the air and it uses the rejected heat from the absorption chiller to regenerate itself and to produce hot water for the house.”

The combination of the two technologies together increases the unit’s efficiency by 40 percent when compared with the current solar cooling systems on the market, he said.

Corrada said the system’s innovative design meant it was also much quieter because it used a small pump instead of a compressor like the standard split systems.

Corrada is completing his double Ph.D. at QUT and at Politecnico di Milano in Italy.

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