An upstart hopes to make rival cooling companies sweat
ON A hot July day in 1902, the world's first air conditioner was switched on in Brooklyn. Since then, air conditioning has saved lives, raised productivity and made the American South liveable in the summer. Yet as it turns 110, critics fume that the technology cooks the planet even as it cools homes. As Stan Cox points out in his book, "Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World", America uses more energy for air conditioning than Africa uses for everything. Enter Advantix Systems, a firm that makes air-conditioning systems that consume 30-50% less energy than conventional ones.
1902年的炎热7月，世界上第一台空调在布鲁克林区开始运转。自从那时起，空调就开始拯救生命、提高生产力，并且让夏天的南非更适于生活。时值110年后，批抨者们却很不满，因为这项科技成果既加热了地球，也加热了我们的家。正如Stan Cox在他所写的《失去我们的清凉：我们这个被空调冷却的世界中，一些让人不安的事实》一书中指出的，美国在制冷方面消耗的能源比非洲总的能源消耗还多。Enter Advantix Systems是一家空调制作商，其产品能耗比普通产品少30%-50%。
Many air conditioners work something like this. First, cool the air to well below the desired room temperature. Then, blow it over a metal plate to make the moisture in it condense (and rain on the heads of passers-by, if the cooler is in New York). Then, warm the dry air back up to the desired temperature.
Advantix's "liquid desiccant" technology, by contrast, passes the air through a brine solution to dehumidify it, without the need to waste energy overcooling it. Its machines are especially effective in humid places, which is where much of the world's growth is.
Advantix, which used to be known as DuCool, stumbled on the technology. It was founded in the 1980s by Israeli brothers who built ice rinks in the Middle East. They found that many coolers could not cope well with the humidity there, so they created ones that could. MatlinPatterson, a private-equity firm, bought a stake in 2010 and brought in managers who concocted an ambitious plan to sell cooling systems for commercial and industrial buildings. Advantix recently announced a big deal to air condition a Procter & Gamble factory in India that makes laundry liquid pods.
Competition will soon heat up, however, as rivals develop their own liquid desiccant air conditioners. In this business, you have to sweat to keep up.