Warming temperatures are being felt in many areas around the world as drought conditions continue. The answer to how to keep buildings cool while keeping energy costs down may lie in utilizing older technology in a new, innovative way.
California-based design studio Emerging Objects has developed 3D-printed porous bricks called Cool Bricks that can be filled with water to lower room temperatures. Utilizing evaporative cooling, an old technology where dry warm air is cool through the use of water evaporation rather than refrigeration, these cool bricks have three dimensional ceramic lattice-like structures that can hold water like sponges. As air flows through the porous brick, it absorbs evaporated water vapor, becoming cooler. According to the designers, if all the walls in a home were built with these porous bricks, the air flowing through them would reduce the home’s internal temperature – and a home’s energy bill.
Drawing inspiration from the Muscatese evaporative cooling window used in desert climates to humidify and cool dry, hot air, the company uses a water-filled ceramic container positioned behind a wooden screen to humidify and cool the air as it’s blown in. The interlocking modular bricks can be stacked together and set in mortar to create a wall. Shaped to provide shade, each brick helps protect the wall’s surface from the sun and improves its performance, The prototype is currently being tested to determine the extent of its cooling effects and applications, which could include cooling large rooms or for agricultural use. Currently on display at the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design exhibit called “Data Clay: Digital Strategies for Parsing the Earth”, they can be seen until April 19, 2015.