If you think that cooling your home requires access to an air conditioner or a functional HVAC system, you might need to prepare for something slightly different. 3D printing is ushering in some surprising (and surprisingly old) ways to keep your home cool and comfortable.
In fact, a newly created design can actually cool an entire room using an ancient cooling technique. What’s going on here?
The invention in question is the Cool Brick, and it looks a lot like someone glued pieces of cereal together into a very rough “brick” shape, if the person doing the gluing had only ever heard stories about what bricks looked like, of course. Don’t let its rather strange appearance fool you, though.
There’s lots of potential here.
How’s It Work?
Simply put, the Cool Brick works on a principle that would have been pretty familiar to people living 100 years ago. It’s all about air cooling, or evaporative cooling.
It actually dates back to ancient Persia and Egypt in terms of concept, and has been with humanity for a very long time.
In a nutshell, here’s how it works. Water drips down into the brick from above.
Warm air enters from one side, and is cooled by the dripping water. This cooler air then exits the Cool Brick on the other side, helping to cool the room.
The water can be recycled from the bottom to the top (using either low or high tech systems), although evaporation will eventually mean you have to refill the reservoir.
In the past, this method was used largely in windows and smaller apertures, but the inventors of the Cool Brick have something larger in mind. In fact, they want to create entire walls designed to cool homes using individual Cool Bricks to do so.
There are some pretty innovative features with the Cool Brick. First and foremost, the sides aren’t flat, which means that part of the brick is always shaded.
Second, they’re interlocking and can be used in a wide range of ways, including with mortar. This allows virtually any design to be created, from entire walls to columns to anything else that might fit the design requirements of a room or a building.
While your first thought might be that the Cool Brick is a great solution for developing countries and those living in high-heat locations without access to conventional air conditioning, there’s more here. In fact, it might actually have implications right here at home.
Its low cost and low-energy requirements make it a very attractive option for anyone looking to go a little greener and reduce their reliance on the power grid without completely sacrificing cooling.
Sadly, the Cool Brick isn’t yet available for use in anything practical, although it will be shown off in a new exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design.