And What about Air Conditioning?

I have forwarded, from time to time, mention of new technologies which can reduce the threat of excessive global warming.  My thought has been that there is a special genius in capitalism to seek out and scale-up in use technologies which meet human needs and aspirations.

I read recently of a new invention at Harvard to radically change the technology of air conditioning (I am a bit sheepish at touting something from Harvard, as I have two degrees from that university).

Current air conditioning technology uses a lot of energy and uses chemicals which have an amazing capacity – far more than CO2 – to warm up our atmosphere.  It is said by some that between now and 2050, installing air conditioning to keep pace with warming temperatures will require 10 new air conditioning units every second for the next 30 years.  It is also predicted that by 2050, countries such as Indonesia and India will use as much as 75% of their current energy consumption on cooling.  But a multi-disciplinary team at Harvard has thought up a very different approach.

Rather than shuttle a refrigerant between liquid and vapor modes in order to remove heat and moisture from incoming air, they built, as I understand it, a large flat device about the size of a window containing tubes inside a terracotta housing.  Some of the tubes are coated, but cooled by adjacent tubes, where water evaporation has lowered the temperature.  Fans blow air into the coated tubes to cool it down, but with no absorption of water moisture.  The room on the other side of the unit cools down with little use of electricity, no humidity to remove and no use of refrigerant (How the physics work is above my pay grade, but you have a general sense of how the inventors have, once again, put natural laws to work on our behalf).

Now, a pertinent question is: if this technology really works and can be manufactured at scale for a reasonable cost, who is most capable of turning a lab experiment into a viable consumer product?