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USA:  An air conditioner employing evaporative cooling and liquid desiccant dehumidification is one of the winners in a $195,000 competition organised by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Zephyr Innovations Inc of Somerville, Massachusetts, received $50,000 as the Grand Prize Winner in the Cooling Solutions Challenge prize competition to find groundbreaking solutions to protect the public against extreme heat. 

The challenge sought innovative ideas to help first responders, individuals, households, or displaced populations keep cool during extreme heat events, which have become more common across the United States with increasing frequency, intensity, and duration.

Zephyr’s alternative to vapour-compression air conditioning employs evaporative cooling in conjunction with a novel, high-efficiency liquid desiccant dehumidification system that would reduce energy consumption by 50%, it is claimed. The cooling solution scored the highest in all judging criteria.

The runner-up was Small World Sciences of Morrisville, North Carolina, which won $25,000 for its heat reflective cooling textiles with emissive properties mimicking the behaviour of animals that have evolved to survive in extreme desert conditions.

Other winners included Micro Nano Technologies of Gainesville, Florida, for its membrane-based absorption cooling technologies. 

“Extreme heat is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the country, often hitting underserved communities the hardest,” said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell. “That is why we must bring together and empower bright minds with bold ideas to solve one of our nation’s most dangerous and complex climate challenges.”

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