In hot and humid climates, air conditioners require more energy to remove water from the moisture-rich air. More efficient cooling methods are necessary to reduce building energy consumption and environmental impact. Buildings currently account for 72% of the nation's electricity use and 40% of our carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions each year, 5% of which comes directly from air conditioning. The refrigerants typically used in air conditioners are potent greenhouse gases (GHG) that may contribute to global climate change. Because the majority of cooling systems run on electricity, and most U.S. electricity comes from coal-fired power plants which produce CO2, there is a pressing need to support improvements that increase the efficiency of these technologies and reduce the use of GHG refrigerants.
Project Innovation + Advantages:
Architectural Applications (A2) is developing a building moisture and heat exchange technology that leverages a new material and design to create healthy buildings with lower energy use. Commercial building owners/operators are demanding buildings with greater energy efficiency and healthier indoor environments. A2 is developing a membrane-based heat and moisture exchanger that controls humidity by transferring the water vapor in the incoming fresh air to the drier air leaving the building. Unlike conventional systems, A2 locates the heat and moisture exchanger within the depths of the building's wall to slow down the air flow and increase the surface area that captures humidity, but with less fan power. The system's integration into the wall reduces the size and demand on the air conditioning equipment and increases liable floor area flexibility.
If successful, A2's building moisture and heat exchange technology and its integration into the building wall would lower energy use, contribute to healthier indoor environments, and increase the flexibility of configuring lease space in commercial buildings.
Increased energy efficiency would decrease U.S. energy demand and reduce reliance on fossil fuels—strengthening U.S. energy security.
Improved humidity control in buildings lowers energy use in air conditioning and reduces the production of mold and other irritants caused by high humidity, leading to healthier indoor environments.
Widespread adoption of this technology could reduce energy consumption for air conditioning of buildings—providing consumers with cost savings on energy bills.