As the years get hotter, changes to our building materials may provide heating and cooling solutions. Image Source: Flickr User: Honor Photo Bar
Average yearly temperatures are increasing and extreme weather conditions are becoming standard fare, yet many of us are reluctant to give up the modern conveniences which are actively contributing to climate change. One such convenience is heating and air conditioning within the home. A substantial portion of global energy consumption and more than 25% of CO2 emissions can be attributed to heat production and electricity.1 Smarter decisions must be made, and researchers have taken the first step by developing a heat-conducting film that provides cooling, even under tropical conditions. As scientists look beyond cooling to see its applications in heating, and consider ways to tailor new products to incorporate this breakthrough, a comprehensive computer system to support this research will be essential.
The Clear Sky Cooling Project
The Clear Sky Cooling Project employs an innovative heat-conducting poly film to increase the operational efficiency of actively-cooled ceiling panels.2 Normally such panels quickly approach the dew point, causing condensation to form on the surface. The heat-conducting film allows the panels to operate well below the dew point, reducing the occurrence of condensation. When in use, the panels have a similar refreshing effect to the the moments just after sunset on a warm summer night. Issues commonly associated with air conditioners and especially the damaging use of electricity can be completely avoided.
In the case of the Clear Sky Cooling project, the panels can be cooled at the touch of a button or via motion sensor activation. Because this system doesn’t need to worry about the same kind of overload that leads to condensation buildup, it is ideal for open spaces. Additionally, thanks to the nearly maintenance free operation, this would be a time and money-saving option for commercial structures such as schools or office buildings.
As scientists across the globe look to make heating and cooling systems more efficient and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there are a few nuggets of wisdom to take away from this project:
- Production: The ceiling panels are manufactured through printing, which allows for easy production and replacement if they get damaged or need maintenance. Comprehensive lab software allows for manufacturers to model printability of the design and substrate in order to garner quicker, more cost-efficient results.
- Size: In the initial experiment, the researchers were able to keep the overall size of this unit quite compact. Using modern lab software in the future can help to assess the effectiveness of different sizes, allowing researchers to see how small they can go without losing efficiency. The smaller the panel, the lower the production cost.
- Aesthetics: Moving from practical to aesthetic, modern lab software could someday help design attractive, versatile options for a wider customer base. Ease of production combined with new technology could offer colors, grains and textures that would entice even the most hesitant homeowner.
- Versatility: The polymer developed for this project may also have great versatility within other applications. Innovative lab software can model implications and newer formulations in order to make sure this discovery has as wide-reaching an effect as possible. It may even be possible to identify how to extend this technology beyond cooling into heating applications, which would be ideal for those living in Northern cities throughout the world.
As scientists tread through innovations to help deal with the climate crisis, innovative software can help reduce the burden. With BIOVIA Materials Studio, comprehensive models can be created to allow researchers to better predict what will work and where. Please contact us today to learn more about how our software options can support the efforts of your lab.
- “Global Greenhouse Gas and Emissions Data,” https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data ↩
- “Ceiling panel cools regardless of climate,” December 2, 2016, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/12/161202074848.htm ↩