New Air-Conditioner Absorbs Solar Energy and Blasts Radiation Into Space

By Chelsea Gohd | November 9, 2018 5:00 pm
This device works to both heat and cool the area around it without fossil fuels. (Credit: Linda Cicero, Stanford News)

This new, developing device works to both heat and cool the area around it without fossil fuels. (Credit: Linda Cicero, Stanford News)

As people search for solutions to the climate change crisis on Earth, scientists are working to create renewable energy sources as alternatives to fossil fuels. Now, scientists at Stanford University hope to offer a new solution as they are developing a single device that collects solar energy and shoots radiation out into space – acting as both a heater and air conditioner.

Collecting the sun’s energy via solar power has been a leading alternative energy source for many years. But this new work suggests that devices could both collect solar energy could and also use what is described as “space energy,” which isn’t really a source of energy, but rather a heat sink.

Alternative Cooling

Objects emit heat as infrared radiation (a type of light we can’t see). This radiation is mostly reflected back to Earth by reflective particles in the atmosphere. But some of it can escape into space. But this new technology, known as “radiative cooling,” capitalizes on this process and uses infrared light to cool its surrounding area, essentially allowing for fossil fuel-free air conditioning.

Space Energy

The research team thinks that such cooling “space energy” could potentially improve the efficiency of solar cells. And they’ve now developed a device that combines radiative cooling and solar absorption tech. “On a rooftop, we imagine a photovoltaic cell can supply electricity while the radiative cooler can cool down the house on hot summer days,” study lead author Zhen Chen, who is a former postdoctoral research associate at Stanford University and current professor at the Southeast University of China, said in a statement.

The device is made up of a solar absorber on top of a radiative cooler, which is composed of layers of nitride, silicon and aluminum. These layers are then vacuum-sealed to prevent heat loss. The device takes in solar energy and reflects infrared radiation in the cooler back to outer space. The device is still in development, but the researchers behind it claim that it can warm the surrounding area up to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius) and cool the surrounding area up to 84 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius). The team also asserts that, since the solar absorber blocks the radiative cooler, it improves its performance.

But, while the promise of cooling your home using reflected infrared radiation from outer space sounds intriguing, it’s far from ready. Chen said there is a lot of work left to do before this technology could be scaled up and capable of commercial use.

If it works, the tech could be significant. The International Energy Agency says that emissions from air conditioners will continue to increase dramatically in the years ahead. As our planet warms, more people will use air conditioners and contribute to increased fossil fuel use.

Their work is published in the journal Joule.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: solar system
  • Kay Uwe Böhm

    Wasted research money for useless stuff.

    Really new and usefull glas green house in desert cooled but delivering energy not needing water condensed out with CF compressor there hot cooled with CO2 for turbines efficiency near 100% for all steam power plants without nonsense wasting condensor but CF compressor, cooling of all surfaces with backflow thermal isolated only electricity out but better again no oil, gas and coal the RBN-Th pebble bed HTR zero risk real all cases whatever and cheap.
    RBN is white diamond cubic boron nitride about 100$/kg isotopes B-11 and N-15 latest lucky 1/100 neutron absorption of C-12 graphite for only ThO2 30 year pebble runtime and endstorage hard up to 2800°C and unburnable insoluble open secure just baking nuclear fuel powder in BN no QuadTriso needed in compact HTR with tungsten reflector, walls all around rib steel melting concrete tungsten double steel inside Li-7 cooled separated to turbines, between pebbles tungsten helium chimney tunes with holes also placeholder for inner 1 s spring stop rods around turnable control rods, overheat self slow from Th232 & B-11 capturing.


  • Uncle Al

    Silicon’s absorption max is in the infrared. Paint roofs with Shephard’s Arctic colors that intrinsically reflect and radiate solar infrared energy. No BS, just performance – off the shelf, industrial quantities, right now.

    … Masstone reflectance curves, half-way down page

    “If it works, the tech could be significant.” Years late, $millions short.

    • Solarman

      Interesting, my brother had a house in the Desert South West. The roof was old and needed replacing. The guy at the Home Depot recommended using the white reflective polymer roof paint to get a few more years of use out of the roof. So, we scrubbed down, hosed off and let the roof dry for a day. Next day poured and rolled on the white paint. The roof lasted for another 7 years before it started to show age once again. My brother got a “deal” on some dark brown tile and replaced his roofing with this tile. The first summer, it seemed like his air conditioning wasn’t working as well as it was the previous summer. The A/C guy couldn’t find anything wrong with the unit. A check of the attic temperature during the day revealed it was 130 degrees Fahrenheit in the attic. My brother had to blow in MORE attic insulation to offset the heat conductance of the “new” brown tile roof.

      • Uncle Al

        Spanish red tile roofs have under-convection that exits from under the top rims – only adhered at the tiles’ ends. Thermal conductance inward is less than half of that of an asphalt shingle roof. Red iron oxide is a very good IR emitter. Tiles are heavy.

        Cut the social crap and engineer robust inexpensive solutions.

        1) People are collectively stupid, and.
        2) Monsters like Al Gore offer priests huge incomes by exacerbating the problems.

        Got a tragedy? Catholics make alters and empty their wallets into the Church. Protestants roll up their sleeves and recover with more pertinent building codes. “Can do!” is the perpetual enemy of righteous misery and its counterproductive income streams.

        • Solarman

          I found out that even red tile with air space still has quite a bit of solar gain. When I had solar PV installed on the roof of my former home, the attic would be at least 15 to 20 degrees higher than the ambient temperature. I covered a substantial part of the roof with solar PV panels. The panels were on standoffs to get them above the wavy tile. This acted as a shade over the tile and it did drop the attic temperature at least 5 to 10 degrees. On the new home, there is an attic fan, and it does make a big difference on the attics heat retention as well as the homes comfort level.

          • Uncle Al

            Wind-powered attic fans! Them did the HOA pounce, “некультурный .”

  • discussmuch

    Thanks. Earth is heading into another cyclical, natural deep cooling, and you scientific buttheads are seeking to get rid of the thermal energy we need to grow food and prevent revolution.

    • jonathanpulliam

      They have about as much regard for your views as they have for the average bug.

      • discussmuch

        Yeah, huh. It will become such a human tragedy for the world to find out that the ‘deniers’ are right.

        • SchroedingersDog

          Dipweed, you posted that over the Internet which was made possible by super high tech scientists. Not by you.

          • discussmuch

            The Hindenburg was stuffed with hydrogen by scientists and engineers.

            Besides, what about Al Gore?

    • Conuly

      LMAO, that’s hilarious!

      • discussmuch

        How so?

        • Lynette J. Lew

          I basically earn close to $24,000-$25,000 each month on the net. I got rid of my job after doing work for the same workplace for a long time. I required trusted income. I was not interested in the “get rich overnight” packages you see online. Those all are sort of ponzi type of multilevel marketing systems wherein you have to initially make prospects thereafter sell something to friends or family members or any individual to make sure they will be in your team. Working on the internet has many benefits like I am always home with the little ones and also enjoy lots of free time with my family members in various beautiful beaches of the world. Here’s the proper way to start BEWTRACT.TUMBLR.COM

  • jonathanpulliam

    Mai Tai deep-kewl’d by shade thrown by teeny-tiny umbrella made of 2-ply rice paper from Ginza Strip pachinko parlor.


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