“This is really an engineering problem,” says Bill Dabrowski, a mechanical engineer who has worked on several of the systems.
“You can get a little more energy from a fan when the temperature is lower, and a little bit more energy when the temperatures are higher.
So we’re trying to do the right thing by not having to replace the whole thing.”
The cabin ceiling fan is the most complex of the system, so Dabrewski had to design it in a way that was both cheap and practical.
He designed a new form of insulation, called a bi-polar-absorbing material, which absorbs the heat of the fan and converts it into cold air that flows through a small fan blade.
The process creates an electrical field that sucks the air out of the room, which reduces the air-temperature gradient.
“It’s like having a vacuum cleaner that does all the work,” Dabrowski says.
“We can’t just have a vacuum cleaners that do everything and then turn them off and leave the room to cool off.
We’ve got to do both.”
The fans are designed to operate at temperatures as low as 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit (0.2 degrees Celsius), which Dabrawski says can reduce air-conditioning bills for cabin dwellers.
And while the fans are fairly simple, they’re not perfect.
The blades of the fans rotate at a constant rate, which can be annoying for those who are used to running fan blades on a steady, linear curve.
Dabawski says the system is designed to have a more natural motion, so that it will spin in a more fluid way when it comes in contact with air.
But the fans aren’t designed to keep the air moving in a vacuum, which could be an issue for those living in apartments, or who live in an area that’s not as windy as New York City.
“The air-condensation problem is one of the biggest issues that we’ve had with the ceiling fan,” Daberowski says.
But he says that with the new system, he expects the fans to be the most efficient at keeping the air from accumulating in the walls.
And he’s optimistic about the future.
“When I started working on the system five years ago, I thought I’d have it down in the basement and then move on to other projects,” he says.
He’s not so sure anymore.
“There’s a lot of room for improvement,” Daborowski says, but he’s excited about the prospects of getting these fans out into the air and using them in a residential setting.