Hitachi Aims To Solarize Air Conditioning

When the grid teeters during summertime heat spikes, it’s air conditioners that are doing a lot of the damage. Now Hitachi is aiming to offer a distributed way to lessen the load, developing what it calls a Solar Activated Air Conditioning System.

Most solar developers are fairly narrowly focused on power generation and storage, but Hitachi comes to the game as a wide-ranging company with a hand in just about anything that an electron might be involved in, from consumer electronics to home-improvement tools to data storage to high-speed rail. And air conditioners are a part of the company’s portfolio as well.

solar-powered air condition system, Hitachi

image via Hitachi

As the company said in its somewhat roughly translated press release, “Hitachi Plant Technologies has considerable experience in a wide range of plants employing solar energy for power and heating, (and) combines this experience with its plentiful expertise in air conditioning, accumulated over many years, in the development of the solar air-conditioning system.

Hitachi said the key to the system was a parabolic-trough solar-thermal collector designed to be more efficient by controlling the displacement of the focal point in wind. The company said “the system is designed to drive a refrigerator directly with thermal energy generated from the solar energy collector to obtain chilled water for air conditioning.” Beyond that, details were scarce,  though the company did provide a diagram that offered a schematic explanation of the system:

solar-power air conditioning system diagram, Hitachi

image via Hitachi

Hitachi said it will target the system for areas of the Mediterranean, North America, western Asia and Australia and expects to reach annual sales of 5 billion yen ($60.2 million) by 2015.

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Sports columnist, newspaper desk guy, website managing editor, wine-industry PR specialist, freelance writer—Pete Danko’s career in media has covered a lot of terrain. The constant along the way has been a fierce dedication to knowing the story and getting it right. Danko's work has appeared in Wired, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.