Air pollution is a growing problem, and India is home to 10 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities. Air Conditioners have been stipulated to contribute greatly to this while also devouring energy, electricity and money. Current air conditioning systems use non-biodegradable components that turn to e-waste once the system is done. They release high amounts of Hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) that devastates the ozone layer and comes with a high and heavy carbon footprint.
Nature is one designer who has been shelved and given the backseat in the age of man, but what if it had naturally cool solutions that protect and preserve the very things humans threaten to deplete? The Ant Studio, founded by Monish Siripurapu has birthed an ecological and artistic solution that involves traditional craft methods, is low maintenance, sustainable and viable alternative using porous terracotta and its inherent cooling properties that converts hot air into a pleasant breeze.
Coolant is an eco-friendly cooling solution that is inspired by the physical and innate natural properties of the beehive. It comprises earthen terra-cotta pots that are designed for diverse environments, consumes low energy and imbibes the cooling properties of water to cool warm air laden with moisture. It has been designed on ancient evaporative cooling techniques and uses the pots to store water thus maintaining a sustainably cool alternative.
BeHive: The terra-cotta pots are shaped in the form of cylindrical, hollow cones that are locally produced. The cones are stacked one above the other, and its porosity allows the water that is pumped over it at room-temperature. When the hot air passes through the wet pots, it absorbs the heat and turns it into vapour given the pot's cool surface that facilitates evaporative cooling. The design is inspired by the geometrical configuration of a beehive’s hexagonal form that allows the system maximum surface area which is required to facilitate the cooling, also increasing the systems efficiency.
The hexagonal geometry is a stable configuration and allows the pots to withstand the rush of hot air that passes through it. In an experiment, it was noted that the hot air that entered the installation was above 50 degree Celsius at a velocity of 10m/seconds which was coming from the DG set. Recycled water from their factory was run over the cylinder surface and after cooling the system, dropped in temperature to 36 degree Celsius. The temperature outside remained at a high 42 degree Celsius while airflow was recorded at 4m/second. While recycled water works, regular water will achieve the result much faster. The water is circulated through a pump and the terracotta being porous absorbs and stores the water. Monish Siripurapu and his team also minimised electricity consumption by creating a 10-minute cycle to pump the water.
This nature-inspired innovation is an artistic and economically and environmentally viable system compared to standard industrial methods. The innovation infuses art in design and technique and appeals to the four senses: touch, smell, sight and hearing. The installation does not only deliver an effective system with simplicity but is completely scalable and is a functional alternative that also doubles as an art installation. A naturally cool innovation by the Ant Studio, indeed!