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

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   The air-conditioned automobile has evolved from a lavish curiosity of the post war years to an industry standard. Each year, more manufacturers are including an air conditioner as standard equipment. The joy of driving in a quiet, cool, and dehumidified environment does, however, have its price. The high energy input required to power an air conditioner is mechanically tapped directly from the vehicle's engine by a compressor. This substantial extra load imposes increased fuel consumption of up to four miles per gallon. This increased fuel use costs the consumer extra money, speeds the rate of depletion of a valuable and non-renewable resource and spews additional pollution into the air.

In the course of summer employment at a service station, one team member was working under a car and noticed that the catalytic converter radiated a substantial amount of heat energy. He realized that this heat represented wasted energy. After the two team members explored electrical generation and other alternatives, research yielded the fact that absorption refrigeration uses a heat source as its power input. This type of refrigeration has been used since the turn of the century and has been powered by propane or gas burners and by electric heating coils.

Both team members then constructed a hybrid catalytic converter/heat exchanger by tightly wrapping an automotive catalytic converter with 80 feet of 1/4" copper tubing. The unit was insulated with fiberglass batting and aluminum foil to retain heat. The unit was installed on a vehicle which was run at 1200 R.P.M. in a no load condition. Even under these unloaded circumstances, the device yielded more than enough heat energy to power an absorption air conditioner. The lab trial results were statistically recorded and videotaped. The testing medium was water.

In order for this concept to become a working reality, a compact and efficient integrated hybrid converter needs to be designed and produced. Existing absorption refrigeration components must then be modified to work within the space, operational, and safety requirements of the modem automobile. We feel that the thoughtful manipulation of this existing technology can yield substantial economic, conservational and environmental benefits. s



Students: Gil Freeman f Alp Franko

Teacher-Advisor: Robert De Koff


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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