We are happy to announce that the innovative project presented by MT4 Innovation has been accepted by the Italian Ministry of Economic Development (MISE), allowing the start of the development of this idea, capable of innovating air conditioning of trucks, campers and special vehicles when they’re parked with the engine off.
Problems in mobility
Many camper drivers and truckers want to travel independently, without having to stop in a dedicated area or in a campsite; camper drivers often prefer to spend their holidays surrounded by nature or discovering unexplored places.
Today there is no air conditioning system that guarantees complete self-sufficiency when the vehicle’s engine off. In fact, due to environmental and acoustic pollution regulations, a vehicle cannot remain parked with an engine or a generator running.
MT4 Innovation Has Found The Solution
Thanks to the Bando Brevetti+, a MISE initiative dedicated to improve patents already granted, MT4 Innovation srl (the startup branch of MT Innovation sas) will develop a project to obtain air conditioning (cold and hot air, sanitary water) for vehicles parked, with the engine off; this will increase driver autonomy, eliminating the need to turn on the vehicle’s engine or activate a noisy/polluting generator.
These new products will improve life quality of truck and camper drivers, allowing them to be relaxed when parked and efficient while driving. The project will be developed in collaboration with major partners, including the Polytechnic and the Energy Center of Turin.
MT Innovation is not new to important projects which, once evaluated, are promoted and subsidized by public tenders centered on economic development. In fact, MT Innovation is proud of having successfully completed all the projects it has developed. The last one has been promoted by the European Commission and allowed the development and the production of the first mass-market thermoelectric generators in the world: the Zeus range.
Compared to current electrically operated air conditioners, an NH3 absorption heat pump will be used, with a binary solution of water with a very low percentage of ammonia. Electricity is replaced by heat, obtained from the vehicle both while driving and while parked; a small and efficient burner will be used, fueled by hydrocarbons, bioethanol or gas (hydrogen included) tapped from on-board tanks.
This device will produce about 6Kw in heating and 3Kw in cooling. In industrial cold sector absorption technology is gradually replacing compressor based traditional system, since it is more efficient and reliable due to the considerable reduction of moving mechanical parts. Another advantage of the project is to have a single device for hot and cold production, decreasing weights and costs; moreover, low pressure circuits are used and gases responsible for global warming are eliminated.
Besides this specific project this technology can be applied in many other sectors, from the nautical sector to controlled temperature transports. Even cascade systems can be realized obtaining the so-called tri-generation, where the same energy source can be used simultaneously to produce electricity, heat and cold.
Absorption Heat Pump
Refrigeration systems and absorption heat pumps (AHP) were developed starting from the mid-1800s but after an initial market success were practically replaced by electrically operated machines, due to the rapid diffusion of this energy vector at the end of the 19th century and for the entire first half of the 20th.
In recent years however, this technology has returned to play a leading role in the refrigeration market, thanks to the rapid technological advances that allowed absorption refrigeration units to reach high levels of efficiency and reliability.
The operating principle of these machines, as shown in the figure, is based on the usage of a working fluid mixture, generally consisting of two substances (binary): the first – more volatile – acts as a coolant while the other acts as a solvent.
The absorber refrigerant/solvent diluted solution is transferred by a pump to the generator, where is heated by thermal energy supplied via a flame powered by fuel (direct flame systems) or by a heat transfer fluid (indirect systems).
In the generator the most volatile substance – the refrigerant– evaporates leaving the residual liquid richer in solvent than the initial conditions (concentrated solution). Now the evaporated refrigerant can be sent to the condenser, which performs a function completely similar to a normal vapor compression cycle. After the condenser the refrigerant is sent to the lamination valve and to the evaporator.
In the same time the concentrated solution still present in the generator is returned to the absorber where – thanks to its low refrigerant content – it is able to absorb the vaporized refrigerant coming from the evaporator and to recreate the initial concentration conditions; this creates the needed conditions for a continuous operation of the system.
The needed electricity is very low – a few Watts – and battery consumption can be completely eliminated recovering the waste heat, using the thermoelectric effect of the Seebeck technology.
Ammonia, a Liquid Coolant
Ammonia is an alkaline colorless chemical compound, naturally present in nature and obtained as a by-product in several human created reactive processes.
Thermodynamic qualities of ammonia:
- Is a natural fluid
- Is easily available and inexpensive
- Has a good energy efficiency; high latent heat and therefore less refrigerant charge
- Can absorb renewable energy from the air even at very low temperatures, avoiding electrical aids or back-ups
- Exempted from the F-GAS regulation
- Null ODP (Ozone Depletion Potential)
- Null GWP (Global Warming Potential); this indicator expresses the amount of carbon dioxide corresponding to one kg of refrigerant emitted into the atmosphere; the direct greenhouse effect
Development Of Other Projects For Improving Mobile Air Conditioning
Studies of the current technologies for vehicles air conditioning has highlighted the low efficiency of the actual systems in transmitting heat/cold in the living cell.
The focus is on new transmission systems, different from the current ones based on convection; the new idea is radiant systems, already used in civil building where maximum energy efficiency and comfort are required.
Radiant systems do not heat the air to heat people and objects; they heat people and objects which in turn heat the air. In this way heat can arrive even from above, as it happens on earth with the sun.
Radiant transmission has another advantage, a very low thermal inertia; using lower liquid temperatures than traditional convection systems is very efficient both for heating and for cooling.
A characteristic of new projects, where living cells ceiling, walls and floors will become active elements in creating comfort, is that there will be only one system for both heating and cooling.
The goal is the design of systems compatible with the current production methods of ceiling and walls of the living cell, reducing weights, costs and internal dimensions.