The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River recently concluded a highly successful transfer of technology that promises to benefit numerous applications in both the military and commercial sectors for years to come.
The transfer has its roots in the Navy’s modular portable air conditioner (MPAC), a man-mounted, personal air-conditioning system capable of cooling aviators, soldiers, and other wearers in extreme heat conditions. Entrepreneur Ravikant Barot expressed an interest in the MPAC technology, which the Center was receptive to. Patuxent River provided technical assistance from MPAC’s inventors, and then helped establish a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Barot’s new company, OxiCool, Inc.
During this effort, both parties began exploring alternative applications for the MPAC technology, which eventually led to the development of a patented “green,” all-natural air-conditioning system. Unlike conventional electricity-driven cooling systems, the air-conditioning system does not need a compressor, uses water as a refrigerant, contains no harmful substances, and uses waste heat rather than electricity as its power source.
This unique cooling system has the potential for numerous applications throughout industry and the military. But the technology is currently being targeted to the trucking industry, which is facing ever increasing restrictions on the idling time of tractor trailers.
Unlike conventional electricity-driven cooling systems, the air-conditioning system does not need a compressor, uses water as a refrigerant, contains no harmful substances, and uses waste heat rather than electricity as its power source.
These regulations mean substantially higher costs to drivers, who no longer can stay in their cab’s sleeping berths cooled by an idling engine. The new, all-natural air-conditioning system can cool truck berths without the engine running. OxiCool and its commercial partner (which requests anonymity as one of the nation’s top three truck manufacturers) have pooled resources and are collaborating with Patuxent River to convert the air-conditioning system into OxiCool, a cooling system designed specifically for tractor trailers.
Tractor trailers are just one of many promising applications. After renewing the CRADA in 2010, researchers identified several military applications for which the OxiCool system can be adapted to provide quiet, environmentally clean cooling to mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, tanks, and submarines, to name just a few opportunities. Eventually, OxiCool will target U.S. homes, where the system’s non-reliance on electricity is expected to significantly reduce the load on the nation’s electrical grid.