Ancient “evaporative cooling” technology cools air simply by running water over terra-cotta tubes
Modern air conditioning creates a vicious cycle — the more electricity it sucks up and the more hydrofluorocarbons it emits, the hotter the outside world gets, and the more we need to use it.
An Indian architecture company has come up with a solution to this problem.
Based on the ancient Egyptian technology known as “evaporative cooling,” New Delhi-based Ant Studio created a zero-electricity, zero-emissions air conditioner made simply of terra-cotta tubes and water.
Inspired by the structure of a beehive, the cone-shaped clay tubes are stacked on top of each other in alternating directions.
When water runs down the structure—it’s sufficient to wet the cones just once or twice a day—the process of evaporation gradually lowers the air temperature. The porous terra-cotta units absorb water that then seeps to the outer surface, where it evaporates and turns into cold air.
The water empties out into a collection basin, giving it a beautiful waterfall effect.
The prototype was capable of cooling the large factory it was built for from 122 degrees to less than 97 degrees around the structure, and 107 in the rest of the factory.
While that still sounds pretty hot, a 15 to 25-degree temperature drop is a decent start, which could reduce the burden on regular air conditioning units quite significantly, or act as the sole cooling method in places that never got above 90 degrees or so.
The unit works indoors or outdoors and performs best when there is a breeze or air moving through it (i.e. near an open window).