Cooling Against the Night Sky

Update: There is now a new product that can use cold water to cool air..

The world is buying airconditioners (also called HVAC), because the climate heat is being turned up by the use of fossil fuels (and airconditioners). We attended a congress on solar cooling a couple of years back and learned that european power plants are build expeciting the load of airconditioning. This is of course a large cashflow generator for banks. If that is the case you always need to wonder if the energy efficiency is optimal.

Efficiency of airconditioners is dimensioned in COP, or Coefficient of Performance. Airco’s are pumps, they move heat from one side (the hot one) of the system to the other (the cooler one) thereby cooling the hot side. They can also do the opposite, so take heat from a cold side, move it to the hot side, these are the new heatpumps used to heat homes. The COP can be 2 to 4. If its 2 you spend 1 kWh to get 2 kWh wordth (heat or cold) out, or if its 4 you spend 1 kWh to get 4 kWh (heat or cold) out.

Airco’s in the sun..

If you run an airco in 54 Celsius heat in Quatar you are really pushing the envelope, its COP will be very low or negative, simply because you are asking it to take heat from inside (cooling it) and moving it to the hot outside. To do that your radiator outside must be hotter than the outside, say 60 degrees, so that the heat can flow from 60 Celsius metal to 54 Celsius air. It never flows the other way.

How can you improve this situation? Its not difficult to imagine, it is just not selling fossil fuels (it makes no economic sense). Airco’s are sold to generate cashflow, to sell energy. That is the reason why we focus on the COP, not on the overal energy efficiency of the system. This is true for heatpumps as well as for airconditioners (if you choose different names for heating and cooling heatpumps). How is that? The answer is : Because of the possibililty to gain cooling or heating from the environment and thus start pumping from a much better heat.

In the case of the airco, they run during the day, they are usually exposed to the sun. Providing shading and the ability to radiate to a clear sky to your airco alone drops the temperature of the radiator 5 degrees, which means it can now drop the heat from inside in a cooler environement, this raises the COP instantly. Now what would happen if you run your airco at night? Not much use because you are not in the office then, but what if you cool water at night. Then the COP would be much better, because the airco cools against the night sky and air, which is much cooler than that of the sunny day. Then if you use that reservoir of cool water during the day to cool against, your COP will again be higher. We think this could save a lot of energy because in dry desert regions the nights can be stone cold.

Storing night cold in a water reservoir to help your airco cool during the day. Maybe you don’t need an airco at all!

When looking at heat pumps you can say the same. For the sake of ease of istallation they are used simply to heat ground water temperature water to whatever heat is needed, this is a bit moronic. I asked once what the max temp would be (and this varies from system to system) but it was 25 Celsius. So if you start on the ‘cold’ side of the heatpump with 25 Celsius, your heatpump has to do way less work to get to the temperature you need. Now it may seem futile but again a reservoir of water could help out, if during winter you have some solar collectors on your roof you can collect heat all day, and then use it to bump up the performance of your heat pump. No installer will talk about it, in general they hate solar thermal panels because they reduce energy consumption. No surprise there.

Covid Recovery and Climate Action

Covid19 has destroyed businesses all across the world. Banks have not let up and required governments to borrow and spend to keep people paying them, as if banks should somehow be invulnerable to the crisis. Even Shell is now saying it may not be able to come back as it had. What is bad for the economy is good for climate action however, and we have explained why this is the case in this blog many times : Money is carbon credit.

Our money still derives much of its value from its ability to buy fossil fuels. Especially in a globalized economy where logistics is a large part of serving consumers, fossil fuels have played a major part. This is the reason why the economy went global. To sell more fossil fuel, to increase cashflow for banks.

Now that we are going to allocate carboncredit, Euro’s Dollars to businesses, to groups of people working to make certain products or deliver services, we should look at the fossil efficiency of those operations. In some cases, like banks, you can hand them a billion Dollar or Euro and nothing really happens. It neutralizes a debt and poof! its gone! No climate damage there. In other cases the money funds logistics, to get stuff that can be made locally from China, for instance electronics. The resource fuel, which may be cheap now, but harms our climate future, is wasted for the largest part. If you had to choose between two companies, one local one in China when supplying financial aid it makes much more sense to support the local company, because it delivers more real world value per barrel of oil burned.

With current prices of renewables, and renewable factories, it would make a lot of sense to allocate part of the funds to building either solar panels or solar panel and wind turbine plants close to where production takes place. That way you multiply your fossil input (for solar panels by a factor of 6) and you drive down the price of those devices further. You may even go so far as to mandate ‘recovery’ panels, solar panels without glass or aluminum, both once a requirement to make them more expensive. 100% plastic panels are much lighter, les vulnerable and less energy intensive to make!

In general there is a dualistic attitude to businesses, on the one side they keep people happy and fed, and the logic is that they should therefore be supported. On the other hand there are essential businesses, big bakeries, farm related infrastructure, medical infrastructure, sometimes private (worst case) sometimes public, and their suppliers. We feel that each of them should report on their climate efficiency, say their CO2 emissions per true value delivered. True value should then be measured against the best in class benchmark for an average lifestyle.

It would make sense if we all did something for one another, this seems to be the original idea behind an economy, to have equitable exchanges between hard working participants. Fossil fuels and automation kind of screwed this up, and we got a lot of fossil fuel peddlers (airlines, shipping companies, bottled water companies etc.) and jobs that did not really produce much (BS jobs) as a result. To get back to the original idea we should make sure fossil fuels don’t play much of a role in the creation of products, or make sure they don’t by primarily funding companies that have a plan to remove fossil fuels from the equation.

Sanity Checking the Blue Economy Principles

We were made aware of the Blue Economy website by a supporter of Extinction Rebellion. We are not a fact check website per se, but we would like to hold the “principles” of this website to the light to see if they make sense. We will list the principles below and comment on each point. There are a lot of them. Our motto is to maximize life. If you do that you’re probably going to survive climate change, way easier to wrap your head around. So here goes..

  • The Blue Economy respond to basic needs of all with what you have, introducing innovations inspired by nature, generating multiple benefits, including jobs and social capital, offering more with less. to vague, an abstraction can’t do nothing
  • Solutions are first and foremost based on physics. Deciding factors are Pressure and Temperature as found on site. Not sure what this refers to.
  • Substitute something with Nothing – Question any resource regarding its necessity for production. Trust can be based on experience, no need to question everything, not sure what is meant here
  • Natural systems cascade nutrients, matter and energy – waste does not exist. Any by-product is the source for a new product. Can be true
  • Nature evolved from a few species to a rich biodiversity. Wealth means diversity. Industrial standardization is the contrary. A random comparison
  • Nature provides room for entrepreneurs who do more with less. Nature is contrary to monopolization. Not always, pests monopolize
  • Gravity is main source of energy, solar energy is the second renewable fuel. False, water evaporates due to solar energy, without the sun we’d be at ~63 degrees Kelvin
  • Water is the primary solvent (no complex, chemical, toxic catalysts). Solvent of water soluable materials.
  • In nature the constant is change. Innovations take place in every moment. Not intentionally except in conscious minds
  • Nature only works with what is locally available. Sustainable business evolves with respect not only for local resources, but also for culture and tradition. Ok
  • Nature responds to basic needs and then evolves from sufficiency to abundance. The present economic model relies on scarcity as a basis for production and consumption. Nature doesn’t do anything on purpose. The economy assumes abundance, not sarcity, that is the problem.
  • Natural systems are non-linear. What does that mean?
  • In Nature everything is biodegradable – it is just a matter of time. Practically true
  • In natural systems everything is connected and evolving towards symbiosis. Nope, it tries to eat whatever it can.
  • In Nature water, air, and soil are the commons, free and abundant. Duh
  • In Nature one process generates multiple benefits. Not necessarily
  • Natural systems share risks. Any risk is a motivator for innovations. No innovations in nature, evolution yes
  • Nature is efficient. So sustainable business maximizes use of available material and energy, which reduces the unit price for the consumer. Nope it is not efficient, it tries to survive. Plants are 5% solar efficient.
  • Nature searches for the optimum for all involucrated elements. Nope, nothing searches in nature except conscious minds.
  • In Nature negatives are converted into positives. Problems are opportunities. There is no judgement except in conscious minds.
  • Nature searches for economies of scope. One natural innovation carries various benefits for all. Nope, they may get eaten less readily

Ok, having done the check it seems the blue economy principles are a lot of claims about nature and what it wants and does. Including that it would somehow search for an optimum for all “elements captured in a membrane”. Nature doesn’t search. Nature is mostly dead except for life which is opportunistic and can’t create the conditions it needs most of the time. Nature runs on solar and nuclear (geothermal) energy. Without those two sources we’d be on a frozen iceball.

One Roboeconomic principle is : Maximize Life

Its important not to rely on nature to much in our current situation, because according to natural processes we are headed for a massive extinction that includes humanity and then at least a million years of dead silence from the oceans and on land, due to toxic gasses like H2S released from rotting organic material. Worst case would be a hothouse earth, which will happen if so much water evaporates that our atmosphere can not cool itself down (water is a greenhouse gas) resulting in a positive feedback loading more water capturing more heat. We need human intervention in this warming process and we need technology and industry to achieve it.

If you have principles, make them instructive, don’t expect people to guess your thoughts.

There is plenty of energy to fix our predicament, it just needs to be directed towards the right mechanisms of change and manipulation. This is what the roboeconomy is about, we need AI, robots and automation running on renewables to steer us away from runaway warming, and we can. Just conserving or waiting for things to fix itself will not work.