An Indian architect, Monish Siripurapu, has developed an innovative cooling system based on the design of a beehive, using terracotta and the principles of evaporative cooling. In a stifling hot factory in New Delhi, Siripurapu was inspired to create a solution to screen the heat emitted by a diesel generator that was affecting the work and health of employees. With temperatures reaching 50 degrees Celsius, he applied the concept of cooling water in traditional terracotta pots to the air by passing it through earthen cones, resulting in natural and sustainable cooling.
The Architecture of Nature: The Beehive Geometry
The design of the beehive served as a perfect model for Siripurapu’s cooling system. The concentric circles of the beehive structure provided an efficient geometry for the air to pass through, cooling both the inner and outer surfaces. This biomimetic approach further enhanced the effectiveness of the cooling system.
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Recognizing Ingenuity: A Winner in Low-Carbon Lifestyles Challenge
Siripurapu’s invention received recognition as one of the winners in the Asia-Pacific Low-Carbon Lifestyles Challenge, earning a US$10,000 grant from UN Environment. Dechen Tsering, UN Environment’s director for the Asia-Pacific region, praised the system for its use of zero refrigerants and minimal power consumption, highlighting its value in promoting sustainable practices.
Addressing the Urgent Need for Energy-Efficient Solutions
The demand for energy-efficient air conditioning solutions is rapidly increasing, particularly in Southeast Asia where populations and economies are growing alongside rising temperatures caused by global warming. In India, the building sector alone consumes 40% of generated electricity, a figure expected to rise to 76% by 2040. Refrigeration and air conditioning contribute significantly to this energy consumption. Siripurapu’s system offers a sustainable alternative to reduce energy usage and carbon emissions.
Expanding Possibilities: From Factories to Public Spaces
Siripurapu’s focus now extends beyond factories to developing smaller versions of the cooling system that can be utilized in cafes, railway stations, metro stations, and tourist destinations. By bringing his innovative solution to public spaces, he aims to provide comfort and sustainability on a larger scale.
Purifying the Air: Unexpected Benefits
During the development process, Siripurapu’s team made an interesting discovery. While initially using chlorine to remove moss from the terracotta cones, they realized that the moss could actually purify the air by extracting carbon particles. This unexpected benefit led them to amplify the growth of moss on outdoor installations, turning it into a natural air purifier.
Architects as Climate Change Champions
Siripurapu firmly believes that architects have a critical role to play in combating climate change and promoting sustainable lifestyles. However, he emphasizes the need for supportive policies to drive innovation. He suggests government subsidies for non-air conditioned buildings that prioritize natural ventilation and good design, highlighting the potential impact of small changes in policy.
Thinking Beyond the Conventional: Personal Cooling
Looking ahead, Siripurapu envisions a future where personal cooling systems replace the need to cool entire spaces. By utilizing smart devices and innovative technologies, he aims to create cooling systems that focus on cooling the immediate surroundings of individuals, rather than wasting energy on cooling unused areas.
As the urgency to address climate change continues to grow, innovative solutions like Siripurapu’s cooling system provide hope for a more sustainable future. By embracing nature-inspired designs and challenging conventional practices, we can pave the way for a cooler and greener planet.
If you want to read more about sustainable innovations, check out this article about special bricks that house bees.
Inspired by an article from unep.org.