We are developing new technologies and systems which use solar thermal energy to provide low emission cooling - or heating - for buildings and refrigeration for food storage.

The challenge

Finding new ways to lower building emissions

Finding new ways to lower emissions in buildings is a significant challenge, but solar cooling is likely to be an important component of future zero emissions buildings and may also play a role in reducing peak demand on the electricity grid.

Our response

Developing new solar cooling technologies

Solar cooling uses abundant solar thermal energy to power a thermally driven cooling process and displace electricity consumption. By displacing fossil fuel derived electricity in the cooling cycle, solar cooling is likely to be an important component of future zero emissions buildings and may also play a role in reducing peak demand on the electricity grid.

Solar air conditioning

Solar cooling uses concentrated solar thermal energy to power a thermally driven cooling process. A solar cooling system consists of:

  • solar thermal collectors which capture the heat from the sun
  • absorption cooling machine to convert heat to cooling. Depending on the application, this could be an absorption chiller, an adsorption chiller or a desiccant cooler.

We are developing a new desiccant solar cooling system for home use. A solar desiccant cooling system has been tested in real conditions at the Hunter TAFE campus in New South Wales.

360 virtual tours

You are invited to have a look around our Controlled Climate Test Facility (CCTF) with a 360 degree virtual tour to find out more about our solar cooling work.

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[Image changes to show a blue screen and CSIRO logo and text appears on the screen: Controlled Climate Test Facility]

[Image changes to show a view of the Controlled Climate Test Facility and the camera gradually pans around the facility to show a male seated at a desk]

Narrator: In Australia air conditioning and refrigeration consumes over 20% of all produced electricity and is responsible for around 50% of peak demand on the electricity system.

[Image changes to show the Test Bench area of the Controlled Climate Test Facility with silver ducting throughout the room and the camera zooms gradually in on the ducting and then a male appears on the right-hand side of the room and a sign appears on the left with a heading: Test bench]

Our controlled climate test facility tests the performance of air conditioning components under different climatic conditions to help improve the energy efficiency of residential and commercial air conditioning systems.

[Image shows the male looking at equipment on the Test bench and then walking to the back of the room]

This includes testing commercial evaporative coolers, heat exchanges and desiccant wheels to determine how they perform in a range of climatic conditions as well as new break-through components we have developed.

[Music plays and the image changes to show a male walking towards two silver ducts in the centre of a room and a sign appear on the ducts: Hot & Dry air, Hot & Humid air]

These silver ducts are where two separate air streams are created, hot or cold or humid or dry.

[Image shows the male walking towards the back of the room and a sign appears above his head with a text heading: Temperature control]

We can set a range from 0 to 90° C and 10 to 95% humidity

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to mimic real conditions from across the globe such as hot and dry like you would find in the Sahara Desert or hot and humid like you would find in Darwin.  Why do we do this?

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Because we can push different technologies to the limit to see what works best and how to make improvements to help reduce energy use and costs.

[Image changes to show a view of a male seated at a desk in the Controlled Climate Test Facility]

Our innovation isn’t just happening in a lab.

[Image appears of a sign inset showing a plan of the Education Building and a photo of the Stockland Shopping Centre]

It’s in the real world too including an Education Building at Hamilton TAFE in New South Wales and Stockland Shopping Centre in Ballarat Victoria.  We’re continuing to work with our partners both locally and globally to help deliver a lower emissions future.

[Music plays and text appears: www.csiro.au/energy]

[CSIRO logo and text appears: Australia’s innovation catalyst]

CSIRO’s Controlled Climate Test Facility: air-conditioner component testing to improve efficiency and performance

You can also take an interactive 360 degree self-navigated photo tour of the CCTF with more technical information on how our research is helping to deliver better energy efficiency for government and industry.

Visit our Heating, Ventilation and Air-conditioning Performance Test Facility to learn about the evaluation of both conventional and solar-powered air-conditioning systems.

[Music plays and the CSIRO logo appears]

[Music plays and the image changes to show a blue screen and CSIRO logo and text appears: National Heating, Ventilation and Air-conditioning (HVAC) Performance Test Facility]

[Image changes to show an outside view of the National Heating, Ventilation and Air-conditioning Performance Test Facility and a sign appears to the left of the building: HVAC testing]

Narrator: Our National Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning, HVAC Performance Test Facility may not have a jazzy name but it performs some impressive research to evaluate conventional and solar powered air conditioning systems.

[Image changes to show an interior view of the building and the camera pans around the HVAC Facility and a sign appears above a desk: Air conditioning testing]

Inside we have two test rooms that can mimic conditions around the world to examine how well air conditioning systems perform.

[Camera continues to pan around the HVAC Facility]

Specifically, how well they work and how much energy they use.

[Image changes to show a test area of the HVAC Facility and a sign appears above a door with a heading: Indoor simulation]

This information can be used by consumers and Government or by industries to understand and improve product performance.

[Image changes to show another test area of the HVAC Facility and a sign appears above a door with a heading: Outdoor simulation]

The system under test can be powered by different solar, thermal and photovoltaic panels on the roof or electricity from the grid.

[Image changes to show an outside view of the solar dish collectors for the HVAC Facility and a sign appears to the right of the solar dish collector with a heading: Solar dish collectors]

We also have solar dish collectors that concentrate the heat from the sun at temperatures up to 500 degrees Celsius, store it and use it to power thermally driven chillers.

[A sign appears next to the heat storage tank to the left of the solar dish collector with a heading: Heat storage tank]

By testing these systems in a real-world environment, we can evaluate performance before the technology is used in the field.

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This provides our partners with the confidence and expertise to identify which technologies are best for different applications and how to reduce system costs.

[Music plays and text appears: www.csiro.au/energy]

[CSIRO logo and text appears: Australia’s innovation catalyst]

CSIRO’s Controlled Climate Test Facility: HVAC research to evaluate conventional and solar powered air conditioning systems

Or take our 360 degree self-navigated photo tour, which gives you more time to explore its technical capabilities.

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