Disrupting the A/C industry — here in South Florida
This is the March 28, 2023 edition of the Opportunity Miami newsletter written by Suzette Laboy, which we send every Tuesday. Click here to subscribe to get our weekly updates in your inbox.
On Site: Disrupting the A/C Industry
Watch our video feature with Daniel Betts of Blue Frontier
Air conditioning is one of the largest consumers of energy on the planet, yet the technology we use today is the same as when it was invented over a century ago.
To arrive at our global climate emissions goals, “we need to transform the way we do almost everything,” Bill Gates said during the launch of his book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster.
That includes how we cool our homes and buildings. Today, we’d like to show you how that reinvention is happening right here in South Florida. Watch our latest On Site video featuring Blue Frontier.
Watch the 3-minute feature on YouTube
Blue Frontier has captured the attention of globally leading venture capital firms investing in companies building a sustainable future. This includes Gates-founded Breakthrough Energy Ventures, VoLo Earth Ventures, and London-based 2150 VC, led by Christian Hernandez, who we featured on a previous Opportunity Miami Interview. Together, the venture funds invested $20 million Series this summer into Boca Raton-based Blue Frontier, Inc., which is developing ultra-efficient sustainable air conditioning technology.
“Air conditioning has been perceived as a luxury for a long period of time, and it has developed in a world of infinite resources for the planet,” explains Blue Frontier’s CEO, Daniel Betts, an engineer who grew up in Panama. “That paradigm of infinite resources for the planet is changing, which is creating the impetus for technology to drive out old technology with the new necessities…and therefore we, the engineers and scientists, have gone out looking for the answers to this solution.”
That solution, Betts argues, is to create gigaton reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by decarbonizing building cooling.
Betts’ idea came as an offshoot of research sponsored by the Department of Energy — which used a salt solution to make federal buildings impervious to an anthrax attack. From there, Betts said the idea shifted “to [an] area of greater focus and importance, which is our indoor air quality, but also our energy consumption and the impact that air conditioning has on global climate change.”
For Miami-Dade County, the need for reliable air conditioning is vital. Blue Frontier’s unit can run for six to eight hours with almost no electricity consumption, which means continuous cooling during short power failures. It can also address two major issues: extreme heat and humidity. “Our system, since it’s using a salt solution, is able to drive out humidity directly from the air and then cool it. And in doing so, we can control both humidity and temperature,” Betts explained. The unit also increases efficiency and cooling capacity when temperatures go up.
Over the next two years, the startup will concentrate on developing manufacturing capacity to bring the product to market commercially by 2025 and on building a factory to manufacture heat exchangers, which dehumidify and reduce the temperature of the air. That process — “desiccant enhanced evaporative cooling” — consumes less energy and creates more cooling than a conventional air conditioner. Also, no refrigerant is used in these heat exchangers, eliminating an important source of global warming.
In these heat exchangers is “where the secret sauce of the technology lies,” Betts noted.
As always, we would love to hear from you. How do you see the future of the A/C industry, and what are the other changes we need to spur here in Miami? You can hit reply or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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