More efficient cooling methods are needed 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 from air conditioning. The refrigerants used in freezers are potent greenhouse gases (GHGs) that may contribute to global climate change. Because most 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:
Sheetak is developing a thermoelectric-based solid state cooling system that is more efficient, more reliable, and more affordable than today’s best systems. Many air conditioners are based on vapor compression, in which a liquid refrigerant circulates within the air conditioner, absorbs heat, and then pumps it out into the external environment. Sheetak’s system, by contrast, relies on an electrical current passing through the junction of two different conducting materials to change temperature. Sheetak’s design uses proprietary thermoelectric materials to achieve significant energy efficiency and, unlike vapor compression systems, contains no noisy moving parts or polluting refrigerants. Additionally, Sheetak's air conditioner would be made with some of the same manufacturing processes used to produce semiconductor chips, which could lead to less material use and facilitate more affordable production.
If successful, Sheetak's new improvements to solid state cooling technology could allow for more cost effective, energy efficient air conditioning systems that use no polluting refrigerants.
Increased energy efficiency would decrease U.S. energy demand and reduce reliance on fossil fuels—strengthening U.S. energy security.
Refrigerants with polluting emissions could account for up to 10%-20% of global warming by year 2050. Sheetak's technology could eliminate the use of these refrigerants.
Widespread adoption of this technology could reduce energy consumption for air conditioning of buildings—providing consumers with cost savings on energy bills.