The air conditioner taps into the most important foundation in physics – the air refrigeration cycle.
The basic principle itself dates back into prehistoric times, but it only became widespread in 1902. This is when an inventor from England, Willis Carrier, found a way to manufacture the world’s first large scale air conditioner powered by electricity. In the earlier days, manufacturers relied on CFCs and other harmful refrigerants to absorb latent heat from the surroundings.
These CFCs and in particular, R410a spread havoc in our ozone layer, eventually punching a hole big enough to be observed by satellites orbiting the earth. Least to say, this was not good for the habitat which relied on the protective properties of ozone in filtering out harmful radiation.
Something had to be done, and fast.
Governments worldwide began a campaign against the production and importation of CFCs and other synthetic greenhouse gases that could harm our environment. Because of such regulation, most services specializing in air conditioning repair in Mansfield, TX began adopting environmentally friendly versions of CFCs. Such alternate gases were able to get the job done but without depleting the ozone layer as a result.
Some very promising alternatives include Ammonia, Carbon Dioxide, Hydrocarbons and in some cases, even water. The only problem is with its commercialization.
The Basic Principle Behind Aerosols
At the core of any air conditioner is the compressor, which compresses the vapor (refrigerant) being pumped through it. During this operation, both pressure and temperature of the vapor increase. You can feel this by touching (although you probably shouldn’t) the copper lines running behind your air conditioner or refrigerator.
This sets the stage for the next part of the refrigeration cycle, where the vapor will pass through condenser coils. But before they can go into the condenser, any sensible heat gets cooled by passing air through a fan. Once the vapor begins to cool, it changes state from vapor to liquid.
Keep in mind that at room temperature, the refrigerant is in vapor form. By applying pressure to the vapor, the refrigeration cycle is essentially forcing it to change state to liquid.
The liquid refrigerant is then pumped through an expansion valve which causes the liquid to form into a mist. This results in the pressure dropping rapidly and therefore the vapor loses its energy. At this point the cold fluid is sent through evaporator coils where fans circulate warm air through it. This causes the air to cool, transferring its heat to the refrigerant, giving it the latent heat needed to turn back into warm vapor.
At this point the vapor enters the compressor to begin its cycle again.
The Important Role of Refrigerants
As one can imagine, refrigerants play an important role that simply cannot be understated. Without refrigerants, the air conditioner simply won’t cool because the compressor won’t have any vapors to compress. And the warm air won’t have any vapor to exchange heat with, but we can’t go back to the refrigerants of old.
Air conditioning repair in Mansfield, TX will have to take the environment into account when choosing a refrigerant.
We pointed out previously in the article that water can also be used as a refrigerant, but its commercial applicability is extremely unlikely. The reason? While water has all the makings of a good refrigerant, such as being non-corrosive, non-toxic and environmentally friendly, it is inefficient at being a refrigerant.
The purpose of air conditioners is to pass colder liquids around objects that are to be cooled. The cold refrigerant takes heat from the object, turns it cold and throws out the heat into the surroundings.
Some of the properties that refrigerants need to possess include low freezing points, low boiling points, low condensing pressures and high heats of vaporization.
Water has a high freezing point and a high boiling point, not to mention that both extremes are too far apart from each other, which is also an issue. The biggest problem occurs in the compression stage of the refrigeration cycle. To make water ‘behave’ as it should during this stage, the compressor needs to bring water to inconveniently low pressures, and this simply cannot be achieved in regular compressors.
Water also creates an enormous volume of vapor that conventional compressors would run out of space to contain. At the end of the day, water requires too much energy to kick-off the refrigeration cycle. So much that your electricity bills would grow exponentially bigger in order to provide the kind of energy needed.
Use in Evaporative Coolers
Water does have one very good property; which is its large enthalpy of vaporization which allows it to be used in evaporative coolers that are designed to make use of this property.
As can be imagined, conventional air conditioners simply do not have the kind of systems in place that can compress water to power the refrigeration cycle.
Phasing out Ozone Depleting Substances
The United States is currently in the process of phasing out all substances that are classified as Class II ODS. These substances, most commonly known as hydrochloroflourocarbons (HCFCs), were developed to replace Class I substances that have now been phased out. The goals of the HCFC phase out regulations are such that by the time the year 2030 rolls around, there will be no production or import of HCFCs.
This means that manufacturers and air conditioning repair in Mansfield, TX will have to find suitable replacements that are both environmentally friendly and helpful with the refrigeration cycle.
Can We Live Without Air Conditioning?
The continued use of greenhouse gases has resulted in global warming of an unprecedented scale, countries and areas of the world that previously didn’t experience extreme temperatures are now setting world records. This means that we simply cannot live without the use of air conditioners, as they have become a by-product of modern civilization.
The only small action we can take is to minimize the use of refrigerants that could harm the environment. Once these substances are commercially replaced by suitable alternatives, air conditioning repair in Mansfield, TX will become more revolutionize.
At Minuteman Heating and Air, our experts have years of training under their belt and have always given special attention to the environment around them. If you want to get your air conditioner working back to optimum efficiency and save the planet while doing so, get in touch with us today and get a free inspection! Click here to visit our website!