Based on previous studies, the staff of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed a cooling device which combines evaporator and radiation cooling and thermal insulation. The device provides cooling up to 10.5 °C compared to the ambient temperature. It is in the form of a panel consisting of three layers of different materials.
A panel can be placed above an object that needs to be cooled down. For example, boxes of perishable goods such as food or medicine. According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, technology will allow the safe storage of products about 40 per cent longer in very wet conditions or triple safe storage time in dryer conditions. It can also be used to cool down water used in air conditioners. Thus, they consume less energy while remaining equally efficient.
The lower layer of the system is a mirror material that reflects the sun's falling light, which prevents the heat of an object covered with infrared radiation from the sun. In the middle, a porous hydrogel consists mainly of water. When liquid water is heated, it evaporates into steam that rises to the upper layer.
The upper layer is a special type of aerogel, which consists of air pockets in polyethylene surfaces, both water vapours and reflected infrared rays pass through the aerogel, providing expansive and radiation cooling respectively.
However, the aerogel works as an isolation layer, preventing the surrounding heat from reaching, for example, food boxes. Like the lower layer, it is a good reflection of the sun's rays.
In some of the hottest countries in the world where cooling systems are most needed, there is often a lack of the infrastructure needed to feed such installations, which will benefit from the new system, as it provides several cooling effects, but not electricity.
The problem is that it is expensive for the time being, and in the future engineers will focus on techniques to reduce the cost of aerogel production. Other materials that are used in the system are easily accessible and relatively inexpensive.