Nanomaterials in HVAC Systems to Improve Energy Efficiency, Water Production and Decarbonization

A. Taylor, M. Joyce
Exaeris Climate Technologies,
United States

Keywords: nanomaterials, nanocoatings, HVAC&R, decarbonization, energy efficiency, water, energy transition


The energy transition, growing global populations and climate volatility are fueling energy, carbon and water crises that have significant implications to human health and safety, national security, and the environment at large. Driven largely by inefficiencies in HVAC systems, the built environment accounts for nearly 40% of all global CO2 emissions. As temperatures continue to rise and growing populations migrate to urban environments, demand for space cooling is expected to increase 50% to 200% through 2040, further exacerbating the built environment’s climate footprint. Exaeris is working on scientific and engineering innovations that will address these issues and secure a more sustainable future. Our novel scientific approach involves the creation and application of surface modifying materials (specifically nanotechnologies) to condensation surfaces in HVAC, refrigeration, and dehumidification systems. By successfully creating and incorporating these nanotechnologies (specifically nanocoatings) within the defined ranges of superhydrophilicity, superhydrophobicity, or combination thereof, to condensation surfaces in vapor-compression based systems, Exaeris can eliminate bridging, hyper-accelerate the water condensation process, increase energy efficiency, avoid billions of tons of CO2 emissions and create large amounts of available water for secondary use. Our initial research and internal testing have demonstrated efficacy of the innovation; however, additional research and testing is required as previous iterations of formulated nanocoatings have lacked durability, impaired thermal resistance, failed to achieve a favorable environmental impact and demonstrated limited consistency in synthesis and processing. Developing multiple proprietary nanocoatings and a process to apply them to condensate substrates would represent a significant novel, scientific and engineering accomplishment. Creation of nanocoatings that fall within the defined ranges of superhydrophilicity (contact angle of 150 degrees) and possess the characteristics (chemical makeup, thickness, pencil hardness, temperature resistance, durability, efficacy, and environmental safety) that are integral to consistent performance within systems that are routinely exposed to volatile conditions is a significant scientific challenge. Validation of the characteristics as well as target efficiencies, scalability, and long-term durability will be required for industry adoption and commercialization. The impact of the climate crisis on humanity and the environment cannot be understated. The built environment contributes directly to this crisis through the energy and water they use in daily operations. Deployment of these technologies within the built environment, specifically to HVAC&R systems, would have enormous positive impacts on global CO2 emissions, grid stability, energy security, water supplies, and human health and safety. Factoring in the external pressures mentioned previously, adoption of our technology would move a massive global market, valued at over $300 billion annually, forward into a net-zero, water secure world.