Call the solar air conditioner an idea whose time has come. After all, it’s the sun that makes air-conditioning necessary in the first place–why not use it to help us cool down? A company called Chromasun will be putting that thinking to the test later on this year in a city where temperatures can break 100 degrees on a daily basis, five months of the year: Abu Dhabi.
According to CNET’s Green Tech, Chromasun’s solar air conditioners make use of an aluminum Fresnel lens to concentrate light and then heat a liquid used in an absorption chiller, technology currently used commercial buildings–however, this “micro-concentrator” has been developed specifically for solar. The resulting AC system won’t be powerful enough to cool the entire building during the summer, but it will help to take the strain off the grid during the hottest times of the day and cut down on carbon emissions.
Chromasun intends to continue testing its concentrator technology in places with two key factors: good sun, and good incentives for solar. Because its solar concentrators operate efficiently even at high temperatures, the company claims (in a statement) that the payback with their system will be quicker than with traditional flat-plate or evacuated tubesolar collectors or solar electric panels.