The more environmentally conscious among us still driving gasoline-powered cars often feel a pang of guilt as we turn on the air-conditioning on a hot day, knowing that we’ve just significantly reduced the fuel efficiency of the vehicle and sent more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. While solar-powered AC systems – even portable ones – are nothing new, there’s been a problem getting their size down to a point that would allow them to cool a vehicle. While cars may have to wait a bit longer, truck drivers look like being spoiled for choice with another solar-powered AC system joining the i-Cool Solar system we looked at earlier this month.
If there’s one place that AC is a necessity for a vehicle, it is the humid climes of Hong Kong. So it’s not surprising to see the development of a solar-powered AC system for vehicles come out of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) through a collaboration with industry partners, Green Power Industrial Ltd. and Swire Coca-Cola Hong Kong.
The system features a photovoltaic panel attached to the roof of the truck’s cab, which collects solar energy to charge a specially made battery system that powers an electric motor to drive a variable frequency-driven (VFD) compressor, which produces the cooled air. This allows it to operate on cloudy or rainy days and, because it is a stand-alone system, the AC can be switched on when the vehicle engine isn’t running.
The solar AC was installed on a Coca-Cola delivery truck for a series of tests and proved to work on the road. PolyU and its partners plan to explore further use of the system in Hong Kong.
“We look forward to having more fruitful collaboration with Green Power Industrial Ltd and Swire Coca-Cola Hong Kong to build a low-carbon city. Together, we can jointly make a contribution for sustainable development of our community,” said PolyU President Professor Timothy W. Tong.