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Batteries Made of Ice Cubes? This Unique Cooling System is Just What You Need This Summer

Jul 06, 2016 07:16 AM EDT
There’s a new way to beat the heat this summer, and it involves an ice cube-powered air-conditioning unit.
(Photo : Peggy_Marco / Pixabay)

Summer months are often the most challenging for consumers, as this would mean using energy-intensive cooling units and sky-high electricity prices.

But a different kind of air-conditioner allows businesses and homeowners to save money while maximizing energy. And it is powered by ice blocks.

CALMAC's idea behind ice storage air conditioners is rather simple: water is frozen during off-peak hours and the stored ice will be used to cool houses and buildings all day.

The CALMAC ice storage cooling system, which is designed to cut the peak electricity usage of big buildings, has a glycol solution that runs through a chiller during the night. The liquid coolant will then pass through a tube inside a tank of water, which freezes the contents for about six to 12 hours.

In the daytime, the frozen glycol solution will run through a heat exchange coil and will release cold air. The unit contains a fan that blows the cool air into an air duct. The coolant will again pass through the tank of ice to stay chilled.

Owners can take advantage of reduced energy costs as the cooling system charges after hours and time-shifts energy use to the wee hours.

According to CALMAC CEO Mark MacCracken, this cooling-on-demand expectation "has destroyed the electric grid."

"The instantaneous creation of cooling is 30% to 40% of the peak electricity draw on a hot summer day," MacCracken told Utility Dive.

"It is way more cost effective and energy efficient to use electrons at night to create cooling and use the cooling for the building during the day," he added.

MacCracken said that CALMAC manages the cost of energy in a way that there is a three-year payback with a 33 percent return on investment (ROI) for the building owner or a four-year payback with 25 percent ROI.

The United States is realizing the climate risks of consuming too much energy for air conditioning. In a report from The Guardian, statistics show that the U.S. consumes more energy for air conditioning than the rest of the world combined. Experts said that energy consumption for cooling could reach tenfold by 2050, which would give climate change unwelcome momentum.

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