Forget air-conditioning, let’s start throwing heat into space

1) Sustainability problem

Cooling structures with air-conditioning and refrigeration systems is one of the single most energy demanding activities, consuming 17% of worldwide energy production and generating 10% of global greenhouse-gas emissions.

2) Technology solution

  • Two companies, SkyCool and Radi-Cool, have been testing out working prototypes of radiative cooling panels. According to MIT Technology Review, this technology promises to reinvent air-conditioning by throwing heat into space without using any electricity.
  • Radiative cooling panels are essentially high-tech mirrors, designed to cool buildings by reflecting radiation in a specific range of the infrared light spectrum that slips through the atmosphere back into space.
  • SkyCool developed an advanced material that radiates light in the range that slips into space while also reflecting away 97% of sunlight. Under direct sunlight, the material remained 4.9˚C below ambient temperature, a cooling power equivalent to 40.1 watts per square meter.
  • Using a similar technique, Radi-Cool developed its own glass-polymer material that achieved a noon-time cooling power of 93 watts per square meter under direct sunshine.
  • If these systems were coupled with a hydronic cooling system (a more efficient way of cooling buildings that works by circulating water instead of blowing air) the energy savings for heating, cooling, and ventilation could reach nearly 70%.

3) Organizational stakeholders

  • Government
  • Utility companies
  • Businesses or organizations with large cooling needs

4) Implementation steps

  1. Find an early partner withing the relevant stakeholders that is willing to try the technology in a large facility
  2. Install the technology and carefully monitor energy savings through a period of time
  3. Use this large-scale demonstration to bring the technology to market




One thought on “Forget air-conditioning, let’s start throwing heat into space

  1. This technology can also be used to cool water, meaning that can it can be used to retrofit current air conditioning systems, saving up to 21% on electricity demands for cooling in an office building. This provides an option to implement this technology quickly into existing systems and begin to see energy savings.


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