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How to stay cool without warming the planet

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on Wired or enjoy below:

🗞️ Driving the news: The increasing reliance on air conditioning (AC) systems worldwide, especially in emerging economies and during hotter climates, is contributing to global warming
• The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that AC usage for cooling buildings could triple by 2050, highlighting the urgent need for climate-friendly cooling technologies

🔭 The context: Air conditioners not only run on significant amounts of electricity but can also release potent greenhouse gases through leaks
• Despite advancements, the basic technology behind ACs hasn't changed much since 1902, relying on refrigerants that can have a massive impact on global warming

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: The booming demand for ACs presents a paradox where efforts to stay cool contribute to heating the planet further
• Innovations in cooling technology, such as more efficient AC units that use less harmful refrigerants and alternative cooling methods, are critical in mitigating climate impact without sacrificing comfort

⏭️ What's next: Companies are exploring new methods of cooling that range from using less potent refrigerants to employing materials and technologies that eliminate the need for gaseous refrigerants
• Examples include the development of barocaloric cooling using plastic crystals and passive radiative cooling panels that expel heat directly into space

💬 One quote: "The goal is that these systems use as much renewable electricity as possible, as soon as possible." - Gradient’s head of engineering, Santhi Analytis.

📈 One stat: ACs account for 16 percent of total electricity used in residential and commercial buildings worldwide, a figure that underscores the significant impact of cooling technologies on global energy consumption.

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