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$3m search for energy efficient cooling

USA: At least $3m is being offered in a bid to find a radically more energy efficient home cooling technology.

Faced with climate change concerns as a result of growing residential air conditioning demand, the competition seeks to help fund the development of a residential cooling solution that consumes 5x less grid-supplied energy than today’s standard products.

The Global Cooling Prize is the brainchild of the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), a Colorado-based sustainability research and consulting organisation with a special focus on profitable innovations for energy and resource efficiency.

The organiser maintains that this technology could prevent up to 100GT of CO2-equivalent emissions by 2050, and prevent 1°C of global warming by 2100, all while improving living standards for people in developing countries around the globe.

Prize money

The prize will be launched in November 2018 and will be open for a period of two years. At least $2m in intermediate prize money will be awarded to support prototype development by shortlisted teams. These prototypes will be tested for performance in both laboratory and real-world conditions in a heat-stressed city in India. The ultimate winner will be awarded at least $1m to support commercialisation and scaling of their innovative technology.

The winning solution will also need to operate within predefined constraints on refrigerant type, materials, water consumption, full-load power consumption, and maintenance requirements. It will also need to be affordable to typical consumers, costing no more than twice the retail price of today’s standard units.

The competition organiser maintains that the energy consumption associated with mechanical cooling represents one of the single largest end-use risks to our climate. It maintains that 30% of the world’s population is exposed to potentially lethal heat conditions, and by 2100 up to three-quarters could be at risk. In the meantime, the number of room air conditioners is expected to rise from 900 million units in service today to 2.5 billion units or more by 2050.

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