Paolo Corrada, a PhD student at the Queensland University of Technology, is developing a solar cooling and heating system for the home that will run independently of the electricity grid and generate domestic hot water as a by-product.
The system is based on an absorption chiller which is a well-proven, efficient technology. The absorption chiller uses a chemical process to reject heat, which is more effective than the more common mechanical process of vapour compression.
Most absorption chillers use propane or natural gas as their energy source. Paolo Corrada's system uses a solar collector to run an ammonia-based absorption air conditioning system.
He has made the process more efficient by using the waste heat to produce domestic hot water, creating a type of cogeneration system.
Mr Corrada says that "The design is revolutionary because it incorporates also a desiccant wheel to remove moisture from the air and it uses the rejected heat from the absorption chiller to regenerate itself and to produce hot water for the house.
The system is claimed to reduce energy consumption for heating and cooling by 90%.