A new scientific study suggests that air conditioning can help combat climate change. Researchers believe retrofitted air conditioners could be modified to convert carbon dioxide into a renewable fuel.
A scientific paper, Crowd Oil Not Crude Oil, co-written by Professor Roland Dittmeyer, from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, addresses the frustration people feel about world governments’ apparent inaction on tackling climate change.
The paper’s title refers to the proposal that householders could have the option of feeding excess fuel to an oil grid – hence “crowd oil”. This would follow the model whereby people who create solar electricity have the option of supplying the national grid with the excess power.
Air conditioning is installed in the majority of business premises and in many homes today. Keeping people cool as the temperature rises is a goal that architects and builders have been considering for decades. Innovative new building designs, incorporating the latest air conditioning systems, are becoming the norm.
If air conditioners could be modified to produce renewable hydrocarbon fuel and the model was adopted globally, it could help put energy in the people’s hands, so everyone could help combat climate change, doubling the benefits provided by AC systems.
The study proposes using renewable electricity to power the AC system in the workplace or people’s homes. As well as its usual function to cool or heat the air inside, it could be adapted to capture the carbon dioxide and water in the air.
Using the technology that is already in existence, this could then be converted into renewable hydrocarbon fuel. It could be localised and distributed through synthetic oil wells as an eco-friendly alternative to fossil fuels. The oil wells could be tapped, stored and shared.
Reduce carbon dioxide
The report suggests that property owners may receive payment for the excess fuel that they put into the renewable oil grid. Adapted globally, the system would have a “significant effect” on the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, according to Dittmeyer.
As a safe way of storing renewable energy and heat in a high-density, high-energy, chemical fuel, this would be safer than storing fuel in the current underground, pressurised, carbon dioxide reservoirs, where there’s a chance of leaks.
The report claims that this method of producing fuel will have the potential to reduce harmful greenhouse gas. The study uses Germany’s Frankfurt Fair Tower office building as an example of the potential capacity for renewable synthetic oil.
A preliminary technical analysis of the system concluded that with the relevant, modified air conditioning system in place, a “very significant amount” of carbon dioxide would be captured at the office block.
The study concludes that using the envisaged model of “crowd oil” taken from the reﬁneries would be similar to using “crowd electricity” generated by solar panels. It would enable people to take control of energy production and use, and everyone could play their part in the collective management of global energy and the conservation of natural fossil fuel.
As our natural energy source, fossil fuels provide about 85% of the world’s current energy supply. They are comprised of oil, coal and natural gas. The fuels were used to power the Industrial Revolution between 1760 and 1840. They still continue to power industry and private homes unabated, despite the drive towards renewable energy.
Around 50% of the earth’s crude oil reserves, 75% of the coal reserves and 66% of the gas reserves remain underground. Scientists estimate that at the current rate of consumption, the reserves will run out in the near future. This could be within decades, or they could last for a few more centuries, but either way, they are running out fast.
Scientists say that while implementing renewable wind and solar energy is increasing and will gradually help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we must move faster towards a global sustainable energy solution – before it’s too late. Using air conditioners to produce renewable energy could be the solution to some of our problems.
With more than 25 years’ experience as an international air conditioning enterprise, GREE UK supplies a range of high-quality air conditioning systems. Our expertise extends to manufacturing and supplying optimum air conditioning systems to various industrial sectors and residential premises.
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