Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Personalized cooling device?

Japan faces both summer and winter peak energy usage periods, related to cooling and heating demands.  The summer peak demand is the higher, and the solutions seem more difficult.  In a big city like Tokyo, one building's cooling system heats the great outdoors and boosts the cooling requirements for the building next door.

Even worse, on a global scale, as air conditioning is set to spread in large newly developing countries such as China and Brazil, global energy consumption will soar, and with it CO2 emissions, fossil fuel prices, air pollution, etc.

What if there were a revolutionary way to make us comfortably cool or hot, adjusted to our personal preferences, portable, that eliminated most needs for air conditioning ... and also reduced the need for heating in the winter?

Some graduate students at MIT are working on a very simple device, almost a toy, that could get us part of the way there.  

This might make Tokyo bearable in the summer.  I want one for walking around in stifling heat, for taking a train packed with people in stifling heat, for meetings in government offices that are stifling, and for turning off (or down) the cooling at home or office!

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