When it’s hot out, we want cold. At night, we like to be able to turn on the lights. During the daytime, it can be hard to find the darkness.
All these things — hot and cold, day and night, light and dark — can seem like opposites. Chinese philosophy suggests, however, that these opposing forces, known collectively as the yin and the yang, aren’t separate. And science has proved it. Let me tell you about the latest yin and yang science and how it could revolutionize air conditioning.
Willis Carrier’s air conditioner
For a hundred years we’ve been using these mechanical systems called air conditioners to remove heat and humidity from buildings. It was one of many revolutionary technologies to come out of the twentieth century. Because of air conditioning, places like Orlando and Phoenix have far higher populations than they probably would otherwise.
An air conditioner works by cycling the indoor air through a box that contains a fan to move the air and a cold coil to cool and dehumidify the air. It pulls in air from the home, sends it over the cold coil, and then sends that cooler, drier air back into the house. Wonderful!
But what happens to the heat? The heat from the indoor air goes into that cold coil. The coil is filled with a refrigerant, a material that can get cold. After it absorbs the indoor heat, the refrigerant travels to the outdoor unit (in a typical split system). The outdoor unit uses a compressor and another coil to dump the heat into the outdoor air. Yes, other types of air conditioners exist, but the vast majority are of the type I just described: split-system, air-source air conditioners. (For more detail on how they work, see my…