The chemistry of air conditioning • The chemistry of air conditioning

The chemistry of air conditioning


The chemistry of air conditioning Today’s Video of the Day from the American Chemical Society (ACS) describes the science behind air conditioning.

Just like refrigeration, air conditioners use a fluid called a refrigerant that constantly shifts between a gas and liquid state to absorb heat and carry it outside where it is released. A compressor provides the pressure that is needed to condense the refrigerant into a liquid over and over again, so that it can continue to move heat outdoors. The essential ingredients in an air conditioning system are a fan to blow air around, a cold surface to cool and dehumidify the air, a warm surface and a source of water vapour. In a large system there will also be a tangle of tubes to distribute the air and collect it again.

Notice that the cold surface has two independent jobs to do: it is used to cool the air and it is also used to dehumidify, by condensing water from the air. This means that the air is cooled more than is necessary for temperature control, so that it must be heated again afterwards. Air conditioning wastes energy. Process of altering the properties of air to more favourable conditions. Air conditioning units outside a building.  The chemistry of air conditioning as shown above in the video shows the cooling fluid circulates, at a rate determined by the thermostat or by the humidistat. The air next passes over a heater, usually electrical, which is energised on instructions from the room thermostat. 

This video is part of the ACS Reactions series.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

Video Credit: American Chemical Society

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