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An electromagnetic quirk might change air conditioning

Ross D. Franklin / AP

The Bay Area's SkyCool Systems is developing a technology that one day might be used to significantly cut energy demands from air conditioning, one of the U.S.'s major draws of electricity, per MIT Technology Review.

  • How it works: SkyCool has developed panels that reflect sunlight at a specific infrared range that allows heat to slip through the atmosphere, allowing their surface to cool — while also cooling the water used in traditional air conditioning systems. Recent results suggest existing buildings can be retrofitted with the technology.
  • By the numbers: The panels could cut energy use in buildings by 10 to 70%, depending on conditions.
  • Why it matters: Should SkyCool's proof-of-concept test pan out (they're currently in field trials), the technology could have a serious impact at hotels, supermarkets and other places that require massive amounts of climate control.