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Question Your World: Can We Have Air Conditioning Without Electricity?

Can we have air conditioning without electricity?

As summer temperatures begin to rise, we turn to our old friend air conditioning, but what about all those people around the world without electricity? Extreme heat causes many problems and impacts millions of people around the world. A new idea was recently proposed to cool homes without electricity and clean up trash at the same time. Can we have air conditioning without electricity?

Places like Bangladesh experience average temperatures around 113 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. A significant amount of the population there lives in small tin shacks as a basic means of shelter. Heat can be a very real problem in these tin huts as the summer sun beams down intensely day after day. For developing nations, the cost of adding electricity for all residents is a lofty challenge. The immediate solutions involved will need to be set up creatively without electricity. Luckily, a very interesting idea was recently presented to help cool these houses and help clean up the area’s pollution at the same time. But before going into that, let’s do a quick demonstration of the concepts involved here.

Open your mouth as wide as you can and blow some air onto your hand. Now do the same thing with your mouth open as little as possible. Notice the difference in temperature? The air being pushed out with a wide open mouth feels warmer than when we nearly close our lips all the way. To quickly explain it, as air is pushed through a smaller opening it gets compressed and then rapidly expands upon exiting, which effectively cools it a little bit. Now, let’s see how that basic concept can help make a very real impact on the lives of so many overheated households.

If you were to cut off the bottom of a soda bottle, you could effectively turn it into a funnel for air. The bottom would be a large opening and the bottle neck and spout would be the smaller end. By placing a series of bottle necks through a board, one would create an easy way to funnel the air from outside through the bottle neck, compressing it, cooling it by expansion, and sending it into these homes. This board with bottles funneling the air easily fits over windows. Remarkably this also makes a vast impact on the temperature in the homes, dropping it by almost 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ideas like these will help developing nations cool off and raise the standard of comfort while the long term solutions are being worked out. Not only is this an electricity free way to cool people, it also helps clean up the area’s discarded soda bottles. Litter is a huge problem in dense areas around the globe. By taking some of the discarded items and turning them into functional means of climate control, these people will experience both more comfortable living spaces and less polluted streets. Clearly a really cool idea.


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