MIT’s Passive Cooling System Relies on Evaporation and Radiation to Cool Homes

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Scientists at MIT have developed a novel passive cooling system that relies on evaporation and radiation to cool air rather than conventional coolers that run on electricity. The researchers state the passive cooler could be used off-grid and cool food crops or supplement traditional air conditioning in buildings. They also explain that the system could resemble existing solar panels and be stationed accordingly, providing up to about 19°F of cooling from the ambient temperature or enough cooling to provide safe food storage for about 40% longer under very humid conditions. It could triple the safe storage time under dryer conditions.

The passive cooling system was designed using three layers of material, providing cooling as water and heat pass through the device. In practice, the device could resemble a conventional solar panel, but instead of generating electricity, it would directly provide cooling, such as acting as the roof of a food storage container. It could also be used to send chilled water through pipes to cool parts of an existing air conditioning system and improve its efficiency. The only maintenance required is adding water for the evaporation, but the system is so efficient that it only needs to be refilled about once every four days in the hottest, driest areas and only once a month in wetter areas.

The top layer of the system is composed of aerogel, a material that relies on evaporation and radiation to cool air rather than using conventional coolers that rely on electricity. The researchers state the passive cooler could be used off-grid and cool food crops or supplement traditional air conditioning in buildings. They also explain that the system could resemble existing solar panels and be stationed accordingly, providing up to about 190F of cooling from the ambient temperature or enough cooling to provide safe food storage for about 40% longer under very humid conditions. It could triple the safe storage time under dryer conditions.ystem can be manufactured at low costs and deployed anywhere power is limited or nonexistent.