August 20, 2009

HEY, KID, THROW THE BRICK AT THE OLD AIR CONDITIONER:

Using solar heat to power air conditioning: Southern California Gas Co. is testing systems that use less gas and electricity and is inviting businesses to view the prototypes on the roof of its Downey research facility. (Nathan Olivarez-Giles, August 20, 2009, LA Times)

Engineers are testing two technologies that use mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto pipes with water running through them. The heated water powers a thermal process in a chiller that cools the cold water used in air conditioning units.

"When we tell people we heat water up only to cool it down, they don't get it at first," said David Berokoff, a technology development manager at SoCal Gas. "But all this technology has been around for a while. We're just trying to bring it together so we can get it out to our customers as soon as possible."

The initiative is the latest in a move by SoCal Gas and its parent, Sempra Energy, to wean businesses off gas and push them to use more solar power. For businesses, the technologies could mean substantial savings.

Beyond the potential environmental benefits -- the sun is a nonpolluting, renewable source of energy -- the solar systems undergoing tests could help businesses slash air conditioning costs as much as 60%, Berokoff said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 20, 2009 7:41 AM
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