Although I'm pretty sure at least one of our sales staff subscribes, we don't pretend to beCar & Driver around here. But we keep an eye on air conditioning advancements wherever they arise, even in facilities with wheels.

In theNew York Times' "Green, Inc." section this week, Jeremy Miller reports that the National Renewable Energy Lab is experimenting with ways to substantially improve the efficiency of automobile air conditioning.

NREL's ideas include deploying thermoelectrics and reflective materials to decrease heat gain inside the car. The key bit on thermoelectrics:

N.R.E.L. is testing will test an alternative air conditioning system that uses thermoelectrics, a kind of semiconductor that produces a hot and cold side when an electrical current is passed through it.
    Small thermoelectric modules placed throughout the car, said Mr. Rugh, could potentially replace augment the power-robbing pumps and condensers of conventional air conditioners. It would also eliminate the potential for refrigerant leaks, he said.

That last bit is important given the emissions caused specifically by leaks. Have a look at the whole article (link below). Will we see a condenser-free car in a few years? And is there any carryover potential for this approach in applications not featuring turn signals?


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