Fledgling company Chromasun plans to put the sun’s heat to work cooling. Isn’t it ridiculous to hear? But believe me, it’s going to be happened. They plans to install a solar-driven air conditioner–a technology with the potential to cut peak-time electricity use–at a commercial building in Abu Dhabi this year.
The founder of Chromasun & CEO Peter Le Lievre established the company to apply concentrating solar power techniques used in utility-scale power plants on a small scale. His company is showing some demo on Chromasun solar collector at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi this week. Chromasun solar collector collects sunlight 25 times.
Cooling accounts for a huge portion of the peak-time electrical load, representing about half of the peak electrical load in California. Le Lievre projects the Chromasun device can cut that consumption by a third and make dramatic reductions in individual buildings. A LEED-certified green building could cut its peak electrical load by about 90 percent, he said.
The technology behind Chromasun’s solar concentrator box originated at the Australian National University and is being commercialized by Ausra, the concentrating solar power company co-founded by Le Lievre.
Chromasun’s collectors use a Fresnel lens made from aluminum to concentrate light and then heat a liquid used in an absorption chiller, an air conditioning system used in some commercial buildings. It’s the same basic concentrating-solar technology used by solar thermal company Ausra, of which Le Lievre was a co-founder. But the “micro-concentrator” is designed specifically for existing air conditioners.
A micro-concentrator will not be sufficient to cool an entire building, but its maximum output coincides with the hottest times of the day when air conditioning systems are maxed out. The installation in Abu Dhabi, which is being demonstrated at the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority’s stand at the energy summit, can significantly reduce peak-time demand and help stabilize the grid during hot days, Le Lievre said.
Packing heat: a prototype of a solar collector designed to fuel industrial chillers.
In Abu Dhabi, temperatures can break 100 degrees on a daily basis for five months out of each year.
Chromasun also intends to test its system in places that have both good sun and incentives for renewable energy, such as California. Because its solar concentrators are relatively efficient at even high temperatures, the company said that the payback will be quicker than traditional flat-plate or evacuated tube solar collectors or solar electric panels.
Over the course of the day, the solar collectors change their angle for optimum exposure. The installation in Abu Dhabi will require that a two-phase absorption chiller system be installed to supplement the existing air conditioner.