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Hello and welcome to the monthly newsletter from the Oxford Martin School Programme on the Future of Cooling.
The newsletter covers the latest cooling news and research updates: please do subscribe to receive them. You can see previous editions here.   P
lease let me know if there is something you’d like see featured in the newsletter, or if you have other comments or suggestions!
Helen Gavin 

India sets 24ºC as the factory setting for room air conditioners


The Indian Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) has imposed a default temperature setting of 24ºC on room air conditioners, effective from January 1, 2020.  The rule covers all air conditioners up to a rated cooling capacity of 10,465W, and applies to all units manufactured, commercially purchased, or sold in India.

In this way, India follows other countries by legislating a default temperature: Japan’s default setting is 28 ºC while in the US, California limits lowering air conditioning below 26ºC.
 
A large number of commercial establishments, hotels, and offices maintain a temperature around 18-21°C. This is not only considered uncomfortable but is thought unhealthy as, for comfort; the ideal temperature is 24-25°C. 

The Ministry of Power said that increasing the temperature of room by 1ºC could save about 6% of electricity. People can still adjust the default or factory setting if they wish, but it is expected that few people will do so.  This means that changing the default from 20ºC to 24ºC could potentially reduce the electricity demand by up to 24%.  This change will help bring down energy consumption, given India's demand for air conditioning is widely projected to increase dramatically.  It will also reduce people’s bills!

Supercool inventions!


Listen to this engaging podcast episode of “People Fixing the World”  produced by the BBC World Service which focuses on two inventions that can keep things cool, but with a tiny carbon footprint!
 
One of the items discussed is the Surechill fridge, which has been approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO).  The fridge design is built around the fact that water is most dense at 4ºC - which is also the optimal temperature for a fridge! The fridge has an ice block at the top and water insulated walls. When the water rises above 4ºC it rises within the walls to the top where it is cooled by the ice, and sinks again. This process maintains a steady temperature which could, the company claims, operate without power for days and weeks.  The design means that the fridge only needs energy occasionally, from e.g. solar panels, when the ice needs to be frozen again.  This really reduces the energy required, and can bring or restore cold chains in many parts of the world, allowing the safe transit of food, vaccines and other health case products. 

 
For example, vaccines need to be kept cold from the point of manufacture to the point of vaccination. It can be a very difficult to maintain a continuous  cold chain in many rural or remote areas, or where power supplies are intermittent including disaster areas and war zones.

If not continually kept in a temperature zone of 2°C and 8°C, vaccines become ineffective and could even cause adverse impacts.  The WHO  estimates more than 50% of vaccines are wasted globally every year because of poor temperature control. 
Continuous cold chains are life savers

China declares its ambition for a sustainable fishing cold chain!

 
Speaking of cold chains, in December 2019, WWF China has launched the China Sustainable Cold Chain DeclarationThis is in partnership with the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing.  This initiative calls on cold chain companies to reduce waste, and greenhouse gas emissions during transportation to help slow global warming.  It is the beginning of a larger movement in China which is good news!
 
More than 90% of the world’s wild fishery resources have been overfished, with much of the harvest wasted due to problems in cold chain transportation. China is the world’s largest seafood consumer and producer. Its seafood cold chain system has a major sustainability gap, which needs to be tackled by improving energy efficiency, transitioning to low-GWP refrigerants, and reducing methane emissions from high seafood spoilage rates.
 
Improving cold chain technology will help reduce food waste, reduce pressure on fisheries, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In 2018, China's aquatic product circulation corruption rate was 10%, the cold chain circulation rate was 41%, and the refrigerated transportation rate was 69%, so progress must be made on reducing these rates.

Heatwaves are predicted to increase in frequency and intensity due to climate change. The health impacts of these events can be significant, particularly for vulnerable people who can be overwhelmed and suffer acute health problems that could lead to death.

The summer of 2019 broke temperature records in many places across the world, and England experienced several heatwave periods. Particular hot periods occurred in July and August when the hottest UK daytime temperatures were recorded (38.7ºC or 101.7ºF on 25 July). A report by Public Health England states that these heatwaves caused the deaths of 892 people aged 65 and over.  Since 2016, it is thought that that 3,441 people have been killed in England by summer heatwave conditions.
 
The UK has had a heatwave plan since 2004, following the devastating pan-European heatwave in 2003. However, there are concerns on whether it is actually helping to reduce the number of deaths that can occur during hot weather.
 
In 2017, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) called on the UK government to change the way in which buildings are constructed, and roll out retrofit measures for existing buildings. This was to prevent dangerous overheating that will cause great suffering and deaths. The CCC was concerned that a lack of any action could cause up to 7,000 deaths a year by 2040.  These are preventable deaths.  
  
In 2019, the CCC called again on the government to undertake action, in its annual report to Parliament, as shown below:

It requested that the Government (particularly the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to create a coherent plan and roll out the adaptations required for existing and new homes to be safe and habitable in increasing temperatures.
 

Wearable Cooling


Perhaps one future way to reduce overheating, heatstroke and exhaustion in vulnerable people during heatwaves may be through on-skin electronic devices such as those being developed by researchers at the University of Missouri. Their devices are reported to  passively cool human bodies by around 6ºC or 11ºF without consuming any energy.



The device is made from a porous rubbery material with tiny microscopic pores of different sizes. These scatter incoming radiation but allow the infrared heat waves emitted by the body to pass through.  This means the mechanism reflects sunlight away while also allowing the body to dissipate heat.  As well as being breathable, the material is flexible and waterproof. It could be used for monitoring blood pressure, heart activity and skin hydration.

The device is currently in the form of a small patch with wires; the cooling happens where the patch is located. The future developments planned by the researchers include a wireless version in the next couple of years, and further in the future, by integrating the technology in smart clothing.  If this becomes possible, the researchers hope the technology can help reduce electricity usage (by negating the need for fans and air conditioning) and thus help minimise climate impacts.

Daytime radiative cooling: the air conditioner of the future?


Research is ongoing into paints, films, plastics and wood that can be engineered to stay cool in direct sunlight by harnessing the cold darkness of outer space. This approach, passive radiative cooling  is often termed “night sky cooling” and is now being harnessed for daytime applications.

The materials absorb and then emit infrared thermal energy straight through the atmosphere and into space – providing nothing gets in the way and the panels or coated surfaces directly face the sky. They can do this if they have a microstructure, which allows absorption of the 8 to 13-µm wavelength, called the “transmission window” allowing infrared heat to escape into space.
The potential temperature difference could exceed 10 °C in hot, dry places such as the Middle East or certain US states.  When connected to pipework the technique can chill circulating liquid within the building, helping to reduce the need for air conditioning and energy.

The potential energy savings could double that of painting rooftops with regular white paint; it could reduce the electricity used by a building for cooling by up to 45%, depending on the application.  The impact is diminished when the emitted infrared radiation encounters barriers such as particulates, vapour, people or other buildings.  However, if developed to full commercial scale, the technique could be used as a boost to existing cooling systems, help water conservation by reducing evaporation losses, and increase the efficiency of solar panels by keeping them cool.
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Thanks for reading!
Helen Gavin
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