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Old 08-21-2008, 09:47 PM   #1 (permalink)
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There's gotta be a better way

...to air condition my car.
We all know the AC compressor saps a lot of power. I don't run my AC as much as I can stand it, but some days are just too much. It gets very humid here. I was wondering if there might be a better way. Here are my 'requirements';

1. Be more efficient than the current standard compressor/refrigerant system. i.e.; not affect mpg.

2. Not require recharging or servicing before every trip.

3. Be contained within the vehicle. (Can't be ruining aerodynamics, now.)

And don't be telling me about swamp coolers (see #2), ice water vests (see #2), and beaded seat covers (already got 'em). I did do a search but found nothing promising. And I don't wanna hear useless prattle about windows up/down vs. AC above/below 45mph. If you do, I'll break your arm. Or sick JohnnyMullet on you. I want to hear some NEW ideas. C'mon. Let's think.

Anyway...

I ran across this today;
THE HILSCH VORTEX TUBE

It's a VERY intriguing concept. I'm wondering if this design would work at a lower psi. Could you optimize the dimensions and make it work off of ram air pressure from the front of the car? Or would it require too big of an inlet and destroy your Cd?
How about an electric blower? Or would you just be trading compressor drag for alternator drag?
Or maybe operate it off a high pressure carbon fiber air tank. Sounds expensive. I do have an aviator's breathing oxygen tank sitting in my shed that I removed from a Cessna 401 several years ago... But it's pretty heavy.
Hmmm...

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Old 08-21-2008, 09:54 PM   #2 (permalink)
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A very large block of ice in the back seat would do great. For a little while.
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Old 08-21-2008, 10:00 PM   #3 (permalink)
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O.K. Wiseguy.
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Old 08-21-2008, 11:42 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Yeah, I saw that tube in a 50's era popular mechanics book. They called it "Maxwells' Demon". Looks like there are enough drawings to work off on that site, but if you need another set of plans, I can scan the page and send it to you. Seems like you could run it temporarily off one of those crappy 12V tire inflators just to see if it is remotely practical. I don't think it would meet criteria #1 on your list, tho. Best of luck, and keep us posted.
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Old 08-22-2008, 01:19 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mullet View Post
A very large block of ice in the back seat would do great. For a little while.



The vortex tube is cool idea also but I think with the air requirements you would have to run a high pressure air tank. So $$$ for refills and you still would have to have it charged as a normal compressor will not be able to output the same psi. I do like the idea of no moving parts though
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Old 08-22-2008, 09:47 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I don't know if you have seen this, but dremd was working on an interesting project that might help. Check it out here: http://ecomodder.com/forum/showthrea...ject-3884.html

My wife was also very thoughtful and picked me up a few of these seat covers recently. They were very reasonably priced and are a step up from the normal beaded seat cover. I haven't had a chance to put them in the car and try them. I'll be sure to write a full review once they are in. She is an A/C junkie (75 degees and that sucker is on ), so I really hope they work good.

Amazon.com: Wagan Universal-Fit Air Circulating Ventilated Seat Cushion: Automotive



None of these options are actually air conditioning, but direct cooling is much more effective than blowing air on you. I've read the OEMs are looking into in seat cooling as a way to cool down passengers. This allows them to downsize the A/C system considerably.
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Old 08-22-2008, 10:42 AM   #7 (permalink)
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At the risk of splitting hairs, your seat cushions are blowing air on you. But the direct, localized cooling does sound tantalizing. You'd be consuming less power to produce such focused cooling. I did read dremd's thread, but have not seen hugely successful results. I'm not crazy about cutting up my seats and running fluid through them. In contrast, your forced-ventilated cushions seem desirable. I look forward to your review. Please post a link here when you do.

Now how about if we take those cushions and use the cold air output from the vortex tube to feed it?
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Old 08-22-2008, 10:49 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I would think that system would be quite a bit more efficient than conventional A/C.

Also, I haven't looked extensivly at the seat cover, so I'm not sure if the air cools down the cover itself, or if it leaks it out slowly and it blows on you. I assume it would be the later.
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Old 08-22-2008, 10:59 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I was assuming the same thing, based on the wavy blue arrows emanating from it in the picture.
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Old 08-22-2008, 11:14 AM   #10 (permalink)
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In my former life as an aircraft mechanic, our airplanes used what is called an Air Cyle Machine. Look on Wikipedia for an explanation. Basically it uses high temp - high pressure bleed air from the turbine engine compressor and cools it and then allows it to expand, which results in a cooling effect. Maybe you could do a similar thing with a turbocharger and an intercooler and then allow the expansion.

Sounds like a lot of work!

Best regards

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