Crank Up the AC, Not Global Warming

Source: Maryland Today


Ah, the sounds of summer: the soothing hum of the office HVAC system; the symphony of whirling window units adorning a high-rise apartment; the sigh of the freezer as you grab the last Popsicle. 

On a sweltering day, what’s music to your ears can be misery for the planet. Air conditioning alone releases 1.95 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, according to a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the problem is projected to worsen as populations grow and urbanize on a warming planet. 

It doesn’t take an engineer to understand the math—but it might take one to find a solution. Ongoing research at the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Energy Engineering is revolutionizing the energy-guzzling inner workings of forced air that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions—like heat pumps, compressors, heat exchangers and refrigerants—making them smaller, lighter, more efficient and renewable.  

“Most people don’t really know how important cooling and heating technology is to carbon emissions, but also how critical it is to preserving our way of life,” said Research Professor Vikrant Aute, who directs the center along with his colleagues from the Department of Mechanical Engineering: Minta Martin Professor Reinhard Radermacher and Research Professor Yunho Hwang. “New technologies will be critical for a decarbonized future.”

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