Impact Hub Manila Fellowship

CleverHeat: Using Heat to Refrigerate

The project aims to provide industries with heat-driven refrigeration/air-conditioning system in order to significantly reduce their operational cost by cutting their electric consumption.

The high energy input requirement to power refrigeration and air-conditioning systems contributes to high operational cost to industries, which is then amplified by high price of electricity in the country. Employing alternative energy sources, specifically the solar panels, does not solve the problem significantly for two main reasons: 1. high capital cost to acquire such system, and; 2. low efficiency (11-15% efficient) that results in low power supply. As such, the return of investment is slow.

Also, high electric consumtion directly translates to high carbon emissions in power plants, which results in high carbon contribution to the atmosphere.

Who faces this problem?

The demand for refrigeration and air-conditioning is almost universal in every industry. Ice plants produce large amount of ice for food preservation. Office buildings need to control the ambient temperature for human comfort. Medicines need to be stored in a temperature-controlled space. Large part of a mall's operational cost is on air-conditioning systems. In summary, every industry that needs refrigeration/air-conditioning system, which attributes to almost all kinds of industries, is affected.

How does your idea address this problem?

The project aims to develop, fabricate, and install heat-driven ejector air-conditioning/refrigeration system. Unlike the conventional systems which needs electricity to operate, the ejector system only needs heat input which could be extracted from solar, waste heat, etc. 

What’s new and unique about your idea?

Our product delivers five main advantages:

1. very minimal capital cost - the fabrication and installation of system is way cheaper than conventional ones.

2. low operational cost - the system eliminates the use of electricity and runs on low-grade heat which could be extracted from solar, waste heat, etc.

3. low maintenance - the system is composed of minimal number of moving parts which reduces the wear-and-tear factor.

4. reduces carbon footprint in industries - eliminating the use of electricity reduces the carbon emissions in power plants.

5. ozone-friendly - our system uses refrigerant with zero-ozone depletion potential.

Additionally, as the demand for air-conditioning increases as the ambient temperature increases, this product is a perfect bout since its cooling capacity and ambient temperature are also proportional. The more heat is available, the cooler our system attains. 

How are you going to earn money?

The company will earn money by directly selling the product to industries. Our product has very big potential to attract customers from small to large industries. We can install the system to power the air-conditioning system of office buildings. We can build off-grid freezers to store food and medicines in remote areas. We can install the system to augment the ice generation in ice plants. We can install the system to provide air-conditioning in malls and other establishments. Where there is a demand for refrigeration/air-conditioning, we can conduct business. With a reasonable premium, a company can enjoy the benefits of using CleverHeat's heat-driven refrigeration systems.

The company can also be a partner to industries. Instead of selling the product to them, we can install the system for free and derive the income from a fraction of an industry's electric saving on refrigeration/air-conditioning. This method is very attractive to industries since it imposes a safety net. They do not have to shell out additional capital cost and the premium is proportional to their saving. 

The venture is targeting the ice plants as its priority market since large part of the plants operational cost is mainly due to refrigeration operations. However, that does not stop the company from catering the other industries. 

Do you already have customers?

Not yet since the project is currently in prototype-development phase and experiments are currently in progress.

Who is in your team?

Brian Tan Seng, is a technology entrepreneur. He is co-founder of 1.) 98Labs Inc., a software development company in which he is the current President & CEO, and 2.) AllServe, the first local prepaid card provider that consolidated gaming mobile and prepaid card in which he is the Chief Technology Officer (CTO). His prior business experience in implementing and managing complex projects through agile software development and lean startup concepts will be helpful in driving this venture forward. 

King Karl Seroje is currently a science research assistant in Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology in UP Diliman. He graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Physics in the same university. His deep knowledge about physics, including thermodynamics, is very favorable in this project. King Karl is also passionate about building things from scratch and making them useful (he is very fond of DIY stuff). A team member with a sound theoretical background with adequate skills to build things is very beneficial for this project.  As he is immersed in an environment where excellence is expected, it is hard-wired in him that the product they are building should be satisfactory and serve its purpose.

Both members are based in Metro Manila. They previously worked together in the Executive Board of the UP Mountaineers for a year (King as the VP for External Affairs and brian as the Physical Fitness Officer). Several projects had been launched and implemented during the term, which required mindful collaborations among the officers. 

Have you already founded/incorporated your company?


What is the intended positive impact on the environment and/or society of your venture?

Since the system does not need electricity to operate, it helps reduce carbon emissions in power plants. Additionally, the system could be applied in remote areas where electricity is not accessible. This could power food and medicine storage facilities. Finally, industries can cut large operational costs from this system which is a big help for the economy.

How will the Fellowship Program enable you to achieve your ambitions?

Funding from the fellowship program will enable us to accelerate our product research and development (R&D), market research and validation, business plan development,  build the initial products, training for potential employees, and site identification. Also, the trainings and mentorship provided by the fellowship will also be beneficial for establishing a sound organization. Lastly, the valuable networks of the fellowship program is a good catalyst for business acceleration.

Are you living in the Philippines?


edited on 22nd July 2016, 05:07 by King Karl Seroje

Kyle Bo Jul 20, 2016

What principle will be used by CleverHeat? I'm asking because based on the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the only way you can cool down a space from the ambient temperature is for another space to be pumped with heat. Furthermore, it should happen that the heat pumped into the latter is greater than the heat taken away from the former. Otherwise, you would achieve negative total entropy which is impossible. In fact, that is the reason why you need power input into a refrigeration system... to oppose the natural heat flow within the subsystem such that in its entirety there is still positive total entropy.

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King Karl Seroje Jul 21, 2016

Hello Kyle,

Thanks for the very great question. Let's have a quick review on how conventional refrigeration (vapor-compression system) works. Consider the figure attached. The orange segment (left) is in high-pressure and the blue one (right) is in low-pressure. Let's start the cycle right before the expansion valve (bottom). When the high-pressure liquid refrigerant passes through the expansion valve, its pressure decreases. The decrease in pressure causes a decrease in refrigerant's boiling point. Then the refrigerant boils when it passes thru the evaporator. Recall that a change in phase (from liquid to vapor) needs heat input. This heat is taken from the ambient air circulating around the room. As the system sucks in ambient air from the room, the temperature of the air drops since it has given off heat to boil the refrigerant. That's why you feel the cold air coming out from the system. So immediately after the evaporator, the refrigerant is in low-pressure and in gas/vapor state. The compressor then sucks in the refrigerant from the low-pressure side to compress it to the condenser (high-pressure side). As the refrigerant's pressure increases due to compression, its boiling point also increases. So the refrigerant change phase in reverse, from vapor to liquid state, while releasing heat in the process thru the condenser (which is a heat exhanger). That's why you feel the heat coming out from an air-conditioner's back. After it has given off heat into the outside surroundings, the refrigerant is now in high-pressure and in liquid state. That completes the cycle. Then the process repeats, the refrigerant enters the expansion valve, evaporates at evaporator (due to a decrease in pressure) and absorbs heat from the room ambient air to produce cold air, then sucked by the compressor, condenses at condenser while giving off heat.

In our project, instead of using a mechanically-driven compressor, we use an ejector. Let me explain the system in the next comment.

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Kyle Bo Jul 21, 2016

Hi King,

An injector works because there is enough of a heat difference between the injected steam and the fluid sub-system (pumped fluid). That is, the energy difference between the heat source and the sub-system is high enough to induce a flow of energy that is against the latter's normal had it been isolated from the former.

What this all means for your idea is that... to achieve practical COP, the energy difference between the heat source and the refrigeration sub-system should be quite high. I suppose it *might* work in very specific scenarios here in the Philippines. For instance, if you use outdoors as your heat source, there *might* be enough of a temperature difference between there and your refrigerator located indoors to induce enough negative entropy into your refrigeration sub-system. But even in that case, I don't know if you can achieve enough COP to have a freezer... maybe a small chiller?

I suppose you would still have to do some experimentation to actually see if you can achieve practical COP for CleverHeat. And if you achieve practical COP's, under what circumstances your refrigerator will work.

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King Karl Seroje Jul 21, 2016

Hi Kyle,

The ejector works not primarily on heat but on pressure in the motive inlet. Though heat is our source of pressure in this case, achieving high pressure from low-grade heat sources can be achieved in many ways (depending on your system configurations). We are aiming for a COP of 0.5 with evaporator temperature of -5 degC, generator temperature of 85 degC, and condensation temperature of 35 degC. 0.5 COP may sound a bit low, but if you have a "free and infinite" solar heat source, that's enough to power an ice plant. Recall how COP is computed.

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King Karl Seroje Jul 21, 2016

As for your previous comment,

"Furthermore, it should happen that the heat pumped into the latter is greater than the heat taken away from the former. Otherwise, you would achieve negative total entropy which is impossible."

I dont know what you really mean but that is a clear violation of energy conservation.

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Kyle Bo Jul 21, 2016

Hi King,

I was merely pointing out there that you need a big energy difference between your heat source and your refrigeration system to achieve practical COP. Although, it turns out you will be using many low grade sources to achieve a high amount of energy.

With regards to pressure or heat... well, it doesn't really matter much since the two are easily convertible to each other with fluids. In fact, to my understanding that's pretty much what an ejector does: it converts heat to pressure which does the pumping.

In any case, when you mentioned "achieving high pressure from low-grade heat sources can be achieved in many ways (depending on your system configurations)"... you already pointed out what I was trying to fish out. And with that, I think the novelty of CleverHeat (and what will determine its commercial viability) will be based on your ability to design and implement a practical and usable system whilst still achieving versatility. I mean, it wouldn't be commercially viable if you have to custom design a system configuration for each and every customer you have based on the system's would-be environment.

I wish you the best. I see a lot of technical hurdles along your way. But, if you will be able to get through all of those, you would have a revolutionary product in your hands.

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Roy Javier Jul 21, 2016

Nice. Bernoulli's principle? Borda-Carnot? Less moving parts, less friction, higher thermal efficiency? Pak? Ganern?

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King Karl Seroje Jul 22, 2016

Haha, I love your lively comment! :D

Yes, we are invoking the Bernoulli's principle in this project. The Borda-Carnot is one principle that's giving us some hindrance with regards to efficiency, but we are working on that to minimize its effect. Yes, less moving parts imply less friction (which results in higher efficiency) and less wear-and-tear factor. Pak! Ganern!

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