Ah, the cool, refreshing feel of air conditioning on a sweltering summer day.
Ugh, the discomfort when those energy bills in July, August and September come due — $200, $400, $600 or more.
Feel miserable, or dig deep into your wallet — not much of a choice for the 250 million Americans who live in climates where heat, humidity or both are a Catch-22 for three to 12 months a year.
A soothing solution may be on its way, thanks to a melding of technologies in filters, coolers and drying agents.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has invented a new air conditioning process with the potential of using 50 percent to 90 percent less energy than today’s top-of-the-line units. It uses membranes, evaporative cooling and liquid desiccants in a way that has never been done before in the centuries-old science of removing heat from the air.
“The idea is to revolutionize cooling, while removing millions of metric tons of carbon from the air,” NREL mechanical engineer Eric Kozubal, co-inventor of the Desiccant-Enhanced eVaporative air conditioner (DEVap), said.
“We’d been working with membranes, evaporative coolers and desiccants. We saw an opportunity to combine them into a single device for a product with unique capabilities.”
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