I live sunny south Florida, where the temperature rarely drops below 60 degrees during the day, and the humidity level in the summer is usually hovering at around 100%. Summers are brutal if you don’t have air conditioning to cool off your home and reduce the overall humidity level present. This is Florida though, and the majority of homes here have a decent air conditioning system. However, if you head to other locations around the world, you will see that different climates have varying degrees of obstacles to overcome when it come to controlling climate.
Take for example a desert climate, where the temperatures during the day may reach upwards of 120 degrees F, with an almost zero percent humidity level. Air conditioning systems have no problems cooling these temperatures down, but then residents are left with cool, dry air. Many times a humidifier is needed in order to counter balance the dryness in the air.
Using 3D printing technology, Emerging Objects has come up with a solution which may be able to greatly reduce the use of air conditioning systems in these hot dry climates. The device, which is called the “Cool Brick” has the ability to cool off an entire room simply by using the most abundant compound found on Earth — water.
In actuality, the Cool Brick is not a new invention, as it is based on a system that many believe dates back over 3,300 years. However, using 3D printing, Emerging Objects was able to perfect the system, and improve upon earlier designs.
“Our Cool Brick, couples 3D printed ceramics and traditional passive cooling strategies to make an innovative new building system,” Ronald Rael, one of the brick’s designers tells 3DPrint.com.
The system, which was designed by Virginia San Fratello and Ronald Rael, works via evaporative cooling, based on the simple concept that water will evaporate if air with a lower dew point passes by. The dew point of the air is the temperature in which water vapor in that air condenses, forming a liquid. When the air temperature drops below the dew point, water droplets will begin leaving the air (i.e. rain). Based on this concept, the Cool Brick emerged.
Inspired by the Mascatese Evaporative cooling window, which was originally created using a wood screen and a ceramic vessel filled with water, the cool brick takes this idea and creates entire walls which can become interior walls of a home.
Because the air in dessert environments is so hot and dry, and provides for the capability of holding a lot of water vapor, the cool brick could be the perfect solution. Made up with a 3D printed ceramic lattice, it can be filled with water in a similar way a sponge can. Then when hot, dry air passes through, the air absorbs the water through evaporation, and become cooler more moist air.
The bricks can be set into mortar to create walls of virtually any size. When these modular, interlocking bricks are stacked together, they create a large screen as seen in the photos provided. This could be a solution to the high electricity costs of running air conditioning systems in these hot, dry climates, killing two birds with one stone. A decorative looking cool brick wall could be constructed in a home, to cool that home off while also adding much needed moisture to the air.
Will this be the future of air conditioning? It could have a major impact in desert environments, but would not be of much use in areas like Florida, where the humidity level in Summer is already very high.
This Emerging Objects’ project was made possible with the help of TETHON 3D, a company which specializes in the 3D printing with clay. These cool bricks can be viewed as part of an exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design, called Data Clay: Digital Strategies for Parsing the Earth until April 19, 2015.
What do you think of the potential that this technology holds for the future? Discuss in the Cool Brick forum thread on 3DPB.com.