High School Students Create High-Efficiency Air Conditioning

From the Salt Lake Tribune via the ecoComputing Update Center, an inspiring story of three Salt Lake high school students who’s work on a science fair project two years ago “has morphed into an award-winning, internationally recognized invention. “

Tyler Lyon, Daniel Winegar and Chad Thornley were overtired and giddy as they tackled a science fair project. Their idea: Eliminate the use of Freon in automobile air-conditioning systems by relying on the Peltier effect – of course….

Lyon and Winegar, two recent Riverton [High School] graduates – Thornley graduated in 2004 and is now on an LDS Church mission – won the first-ever Ricoh Sustainable Development Award in May when they competed against 1,400 other worldwide invitation-only entries at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix….

Today, the young inventors say, U.S. drivers use about 7.9 billion gallons of fuel each year to run their air-conditioners, which draw power from the engine. By adopting their contraption – which taps into the electrical system, using fans to blow hot air through five Peltier chips and then releasing cold air – they say the country stands to save 3.9 billion gallons of fuel annually, or about $10 billion based on current gas prices.

Furthermore, the product would free drivers from Freon – which despite improvements, remains an ozone-depleting chemical in current air-conditioners. The Peltier chips, which they purchased on eBay for $9.99 each, have a life span of 20 to 30 years and an unfaltering cooling capacity. And like every component in the Space Beast, which can be minimized in size to about 2 inches in width, the chips are recyclable.

Amazing! Congratulations to these young men — we’ll have to keep a lookout for their names in the future… If anyone wants to explain the Peltier effect in layman’s terms, please do!

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