BOSTON--Startup 7AC Technologies hopes saltwater and high-tech plastic will lead to a more efficient air conditioner.
7AC Technologies' air conditioner is designed around a series of flat, multi-layered plastic plates covered with a proprietary membrane licensed from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. With water flowing inside each plate, a solution of salt water is sprayed over the surface of the plate. As the salt solution rolls down the surface of the plates, it attracts water vapor from humid air.
The salt water is then collected and passed through another set of plates which heat the solution and exhaust hot, moist air. Then, the salt solution, minus some water, is recirculated back toward the dehumidification plates, explained Vandermeulen.
The 7AC technology consists of an all-plastic conditioner, responsible for treating the outside air, and a regenerator, for re-concentrating the desiccant.The liquid desiccant design allows for the utilization of waste heat sources, paving the way for true net-zero energy retrofits.
It will be very interesting to keep an eye on 7AC in the coming years. Is this the technology that could drive the HVAC industry in the future? Much like the typical car today with its combustion engine, HVAC technology in its current form is quite old. 7AC’s website has a few golden stats right on the home page:
1. “Current HVAC solutions are inefficient.”
2. “Almost 100% of the market is based on 100 year old technology.”
3. “HVAC is typically 60% of building operating costs.”
Similar to the way battery powered cars will one day overtake the 100 year old combustion engine, maybe the dessicant air conditioner will bid farewell to the condenser-based AC units in use today.