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Gas Saving Automotive Air Conditioning This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Ever since the 1950s when automotive air-conditioners first became an option on cars, there have been a number of ever growing problems that relegated the car air-conditioner to the status of an environmentally unfriendly car option. Even today, state of the art air conditioners increase fuel usage because their energy input taps engine horsepower. Nationally and globally, the extra fuel consumed due to air conditioner use is substantial. Once the air conditioner is turned on, car performance will degrade by up to four miles per gallon at speeds of 20-40 miles per hour, thus lowering the car's fuel economy. Non-renewable fuel is needlessly consumed, money is wasted, and the environment is further compromised with the by-products of this additional fuel consumption.

SOLUTION:

Our solution is to use an absorption air conditioning system. The system uses water as the refrigerant and lithium bromide as the absorbent. The air conditioner chilling effect takes place in the evaporator. Water is sprayed over a tube bundle through which water passes to be chilled. The sprayed water evaporates on the tube surface thus chilling the tube and the water inside.

The key component in our system is the hybrid heat exchanger/catalytic converter. The catalytic converter was first put into cars in the early 1980s to reduce emissions. We replaced the generator and burner present in all absorption air conditioners with a heat exchanger that surrounds the catalytic converter of the automobile's exhaust system. Our heat exchanger is made up of 80 feet of copper tubing which encompasses the whole converter. Since all this heat would normally be wasted, we decided to build a heat exchanger around the catalytic converter and see how many BTUs we could recover from the system.

The only mechanical part in our absorption air conditioner will be a small pump which would aid in directing the mixtures to the proper locations.

With this new type of automotive air conditioner system, the benefits would be numerous. Substantially less fuel would be used worldwide, atmospheric pollution would be lessened, and motor vehicles could be more economical to run.

Therefore, since our system is stronger than the compressor system, additional A/C vents could be mounted in the rear of the car to cool the back-seat passengers, who in the past have mostly been neglected. Since our A/C system would not be linked to fuel waste, we would encourage people to use it whenever they could, instead of opening windows, especially in the spring and fall. Several studies have shown that if windows in a car are opened, increased drag causes a two horsepower reduction in engine power and a significant decrease in fuel economy. With our A/C system, not only would gasoline be saved during the summer months (a four mile per gallon decrease), but also in the spring and fall. Therefore, we estimate that our system should yield approximately 1.5 miles per gallon conservation on fuel economy over the year. With this estimate we can also predict that we would save the average driver 62 gallons of gas and $81 a year. This would save the United States about 10.5 billion gallons of gasoline and 13.7 billion dollars per year. Thinking globally, the figures stated above can be very significant in view of the fact that there are about 600 million vehicles in the world compared to 185 million in the United States. Money and wasted gasoline are not the only areas are affected by our project. In 1992, the amount of carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides, volatile organic compounds, particulates, nitrogen oxides, and lead totaled almost 65 million metric tons. Our project would profoundly reduce that number by 5.7 million metric tons.

CONCLUSION:

In this project, a seed was planted. Replacing the conventional compressor air conditioners in cars today with the absorption type (having the catalytic converter as the generator), is helpful to both consumers and the environment. It saves gas which helps people economically and the environment, by not producing as many harmful pollutants into the atmosphere. Also, the reduced strain on the engine because of the absence of a compressor could significantly increase engine performance. Hopefully, this project will germinate and blossom to become a reality. u


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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