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‘With air as the cooling medium, there will be zero global warming potential’

Maria Yzabell “MY” Angel Palma, a 19-year-old incoming college freshman from the Philippines, speaks exclusively with Hannah Jo Uy of Climate Control Middle East on AirDisc, an invention born from a school project that offers air conditioning without the use of refrigerants, her plans to commercialise the patented design and her future in the HVACR sector. Excerpts from the interview…

| | Sep 30, 2018 | 10:09 am
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Angel Palma

Could you take us through the technology behind your invention, AirDisc, and the attributes that make it more efficient compared to conventional ACs?

With air as the cooling medium, there will be zero global warming potential and no environmental or health threats. Residential, commercial and industrial establishments as well as the air conditioning industry will benefit hugely from the aforementioned features. When AirDisc is launched, assembly-type mass production will be implemented. This will benefit a lot of people, especially the labourers and other stakeholders.

Prototype of Palma’s AirDisc

What led to the creation of AirDisc?

I used copper tubes in my Grade 10 research, entitled ‘AirWave Oven’. This is where I accidentally discovered that it was emitting cold air, as cold as an AC, so I thought why not use this cold air instead. From there, I started consulting with my father, who is a mechanical engineer, to know more about air conditioning. I asked my father if we can harness the cold air to use for AC. I then researched about the materials, design and principles to be used. From there, my father and I would exchange notes. Mainly me asking and being curious about the things to be used and him, answering what’s feasible and what’s not. My father and I were the only ones to make this experimental prototype, so my father played a very important part in making AirDisc happen. My father is my main consultant, and he is the head of my team. I am also consulting with him on matters of accountancy, legal aspects and research and development.

Have you made any tweaks since creating it?

Yes, a lot of tweaks were made. This is a normal scenario in researching a new technology.

Could you talk about the electricity consumption?

As of now, the experimental prototype uses 350 watts. But the commercial prototype will use 100-150 watts only. Comparing it to the existing ACs, which use 1,200 watts at the very least, AirDisc is much cheaper in terms of electricity consumption.

Would you consider it as a cost-effective alternative solution, especially for developing countries such as the Philippines?

Definitely, yes – not only for developing countries but also for developed ones. Efficient and affordable air conditioning units are vital for both developed and developing countries, to reduce detrimental environmental and health effects of chemical refrigerants. Widely used refrigerants are considered super greenhouse gases, since one kilogram of a refrigerant is roughly as much as 20,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide, when global warming potential is taken into account. As recently agreed upon and signed by countries of the United Nations, harmful refrigerants are mandated to be phased out by the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol. Existing air conditioning units are based on closed system air conditioning technology that uses piston or rotary compressors with high pressure and low volume, which requires a lot of energy. This results in expensive operational, and even maintenance costs to users and can be prohibitive to those wishing to avail of air conditioning.

What do you see for the future of AirDisc?

I am inviting companies to join me in propagating the AirDisc, especially in our era of accelerating global warming, which results in recurring heat waves that endanger the health, and even the lives, of so many people. I believe that through people like you I can reach out to these companies and also those who are especially concerned about the dire situation of our planet’s atmosphere.

Is this something you hope to share with the rest of the world? Do you have a strategy for possibly moving to commercial manufacturing?

Yes, we are now in the process of commercialising the AirDisc. A number of companies, groups and individuals have already signified their willingness to join me. Through the AirDisc Air Conditioning Technology, I can surely contribute to the global dialogue in sustainability.

We understand a patent for AirDisc has been filed in both Philippines and the United States?

Yes, a patent application has been filed under the United States Patent & Trademarks Office, and we will be taking the Patent Cooperation Treaty route, where 152 countries who signed the said treaty will recognise the patent of the technology.

What are your plans for college? Are you considering pursuing a career in the HVACR industry?

I’m an incoming freshman of De La Salle University, Manila, and will be taking Mechanical Engineering. And yes, there is no doubt that I’ll be in the HVACR industry for my career.

 

Hannah Jo Uy is Assistant Editor at Climate Control Middle East magazine. She may be contacted at hannah@cpi-industry.com


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