Third World Tomorrow

Some Half baked ideas, with the intention of trying to enhance the standard of living of the third world without the American-style gas guzzling. Prosperity will only be a consequence of efficiency. The developing world has limited resources. They must be used to the fullest. We explore exciting possibilities - in not just energy technologies, but any other technologies that help us use our extremely scarce resources better.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Cheap Comfort Conditioning


It is impossible to imagine any enhacement in the standard of living of the masses in the third world without a corresponding enhancement in the accessibility of personal comfort conditioning technologies. Currently, intolerable excesses in temperatures are just "borne out" by residents of the third world, for energy prices are way too high for any air conditioning of any sort.

Since most of the third world is tropical, it is ample enough to design for extreme heat and humidity. The need of the hour is an air cooling/conditioning system that is economical to purchase and run. To many, that would be the holy grail of air-conditioning. Such a device would sell phenomenally well in India, for one, where middle class incomes are on the increase, as are electricity prices.


The average middle class room in India is 3m x 4m x 3m. The average bed in would be 1.5m x 2m in area. Suppose, we consider a mosquito net 1m in height above the bed - the volume of the air within the net (on top of the bed) would be 3 cubic meters. The amount of air in the room would be 36cubic meters.

Suppose an air conditioning system were designed to be effective just within the mosquito net. The compressor could be housed in a unit outside the mosquito net. We note that the electricity consumption is potentially twelve times lesser than a full fledged air conditioner for the room. And also, the initial cost in not expected to be much either - the compressor is expected to be of a lower rating - lower than that of a refrigerator too! And the compressor unit need not be housed outside the house: it can just be within the house like a refrigerator.

A refrigerator cools a slightly lower volume to a lower temperature. The power consumption of this device, I am confident will be slightly lesser than that of an average refrigerator.

And what is more, this device can be run on solar cells, should their cost ever become comparable to fossil fuel based electricity. (150 W is not much). Of course, a solar VARS system could be envisioned, but that would be messy and would need a solar collector interchanging fluids with the air conditioner.

A cheaper alternative could be the cool blanket, described here.