Passive Radiator Cools by Sending Heat Straight to Outer Space

December 1, 2014 4:29 AM

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Passive Radiator Cools by Sending Heat Straight to Outer Space

Conventional cooling is all about moving heat from a place where you don’t want it to a place that you care about slightly less. Your refrigerator, for example, cools itself by pumping heat into your house. Your house cools itself by pumping heat into the outdoors. It takes a significant amount of energy to keep this up—15 percent of the energy consumption of most buildings is spent just on air conditioning—meaning that the work put into transferring the heat generates even more heat. And then it’s not like the heat just vanishes when it gets outside: in urban areas, all of this waste heat builds up to increase local temperatures as part of the urban heat island effect.

Radiative cooling is a way of passively moving heat from one place to another through thermal radiation, without the need for any additional energy (like electricity). If you have a hot thing, it will radiate its heat into whatever cooler thing is most convenient. In your house, this is probably the...

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