Self-Cooling Walls Take Climate Control Off the Grid

With anticipated rising global temperatures, the need to cool our homes will take a massive toll on our electrical grid, which a team of masters students aims to address with their new wall insulation.
November 11, 2014, 11am PST | Maayan Dembo | @DJ_Mayjahn
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According to Adele Peters of Co. Exist, "[as] climate change makes summer heat more unbearable and incomes rise in developing nations, the world will be using a lot more air conditioning—30 times as much by the end of the century, according to one prediction. Ironically, all of that A/C also makes climate change worse. In the U.S. alone, people already use nearly 200 billion kilowatt hours of electricity for cooling each year, and countries like India and China will soon dwarf that."

A team of masters students at the Institute for Advance Architecture of Catalonia, Spain have developed a new self-cooling wall technology to address this issue. The net zero electricity system "uses a material called hydrogel that swells to 400 times its size when placed in water. In hot weather, the hydrogel slowly begins to evaporate, cooling the indoor air by about 9 or 10 degrees. The designers incorporated the hydrogel into a new composite called 'hydroceramic,' which sandwiches the gel between layers of clay and fabric to create walls that maximize the effect."

The material is nearly market-ready, and can save up to 28 percent of the energy used by air conditioning, although the article notes a lack of information on the energy required to manufacture the material.

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Published on Thursday, October 16, 2014 in Fast Co.Exist
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