Global Competition Launched to Innovate Air Conditioners

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A global alliance has launched an innovative competition aimed at creating sustainable and eco-friendly air-conditioning systems. The alliance, comprised of the Indian government, nonprofit organization Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), and other international partners, launched the Global Cooling Prize competition. The goal of this competition is to develop new technologies for room air conditioners (RACs). More than 2,100 participants from over 95 countries signed up for the competition. Among those who submitted initial ideas, eight finalists were chosen and given $200,000 each to build prototypes, which will be tested in India during the summer of 2020. The finalists introduced different technology types that can reduce or eliminate substances used in air conditioners that contribute to climate change. For example, two finalists used water in their designs. By 2050, the global demand for RACs is expected to have an unprecedented increase from the current 1.2 billion units to a projected 4.5 billion. Some contributors to the increase are urbanization, population growth, and continuous global warming. Because of this, RACs’ impact on the climate is also expected to increase, and this will cause the planet to warm further. According to RMI, global warming can rise by half a degree by the end of the 21st century because of RACs. The alliance recognizes that the major challenge of the winning technology will be persuading people to replace current RACs. According to a professor from the University of Cambridge, it will be difficult to encourage consumers to buy air conditioners based on performance and impact on the climate. A proposed solution is to phase out current designs that are unsustainable.

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