ALTERNATIVE POWER SOURCES

‘Breathable’ Metal Could Usurp Air Conditioning

FEB 7, 2013 11:14 AM ET // BY NIC HALVERSON

With its pores and sweat glands, human skin might be one of world’s best natural air conditioners.

“It has all these things that work together very dynamically and efficiently. And so what I propose is that our building skins should be more similar to human skin,” biologist turned architect, Doris Kim Sung, said in her TED talk last October.

Considering that 30 to 40 percent of all primary energy consumed worldwide goes toward heating and cooling buildings, Sung’s sustainable design concept could be a more passive method for ventilating buildings. Better yet, the material she plans to use has been around for 100 years and is so simple, she couldn’t understand why no one had used it yet for this idea.

The material she has in mind is a thermo-bimetal strip — two thin pieces of metal such as copper and steel sandwiched together. These two metals expand and contract when heated and cooled. When it’s hot, the metal bends one way. When it’s cold, it bends the other.

Read more: 'Breathable' Metal Could Usurp Air Conditioning : Discovery News.

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