Can the chill of space help slow climate change? - Technical.ly Philly

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Jun. 4, 2018 12:59 pm

Can the chill of space help slow climate change?

Penn professor Aaswath Raman is working on a way to make cooling systems more efficient by beaming their heat to outer space. For real.

Penn professor Aaswath Raman.

(Video by TED.com)

News flash: Though the Earth is warming at a hellish pace, outer space is still freezing cold.

And since cooling systems account for 17 percent of electricity use worldwide, it occurred to professor Aaswath Raman, an assistant prof at Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science and a prominent voice in the nascent field of radiative cooling, that beaming heat emissions to space could help lower greenhouse gas emissions.

As part of his Ph.D. research at Stanford, Raman devised a multilayer optical material 40 times thinner than a human hair that’s able to avoid getting heated up by the sun while beaming out its own heat to outer space through a precise infrared frequency. Alongside cofounders Eli Goldstein and Shanhui Fan, Raman started a company to develop the technology and bring it to market.

“Our startup, SkyCool Systems, has recently completed a field trial in Davis, California,” Raman said in a recent TED Talk. “In that demonstration, we showed that we could actually improve the efficiency of that cooling system as much as 12 percent in the field.”

Per Crunchbase, SkyCool Systems is the recipient of around $1 million in research grants from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy through its ARPA-e research agency.

Watch Raman explain the science behind his company:

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