Smaller, More Efficient Refrigeration Equipment that Uses Available Heat to Power Cooling

Technology #13948

Light-Weight Absorption Cooling Technology Employs Heat, Solar Energy to Power Refrigeration Systems

This film-based, compact absorption refrigeration equipment repurposes heat from natural and industrial processes, creating more efficient refrigerators and air conditioners at a lower cost. Absorption refrigeration systems (ARS), also called absorption chillers, have remained relatively unchanged since their conception more than 150 years ago. The refrigerant market is only beginning to appreciate the ecofriendly aspect of absorption chillers, which repurpose industrial or solar energy that would otherwise be wasted; a technology that increases the performance of absorption cooling systems would greatly reduce global energy consumption and carbon emission. Also, existing absorption chillers with cooling capacities of 10-15 kW generally rely on shell and tube absorbers that weigh 880 pounds or more, making them too large and unwieldy for many buildings. Researchers at the University of Florida have developed an inexpensive absorption refrigeration system that is more compact, uses fewer components and performs better than existing technologies. Furthermore, these inexpensive ARSs would significantly improve the economics for combined heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC).


Absorption cooling technology that employs ultra-thin liquid film for less expensive, more efficient refrigerant and HVAC technology


  • Reduces size, thereby permitting the use of the ARS in smaller spaces
  • Requires fewer components, reducing associated costs and improving reliability
  • Uses environmentally friendly process, reducing CO2 emissions and eliminating harmful chemicals, such as Freon
  • Enhances energy output, improving overall refrigeration efficiency


This technology utilizes a porous hydrophobic membrane to improve existing absorption refrigeration technologies via the enhancement of the heat and mass transport processes involved within the system. The membrane constricts an ultra-thin liquid film (UTF), measuring 250 micrometers or less in thickness, against a cooling surface, which allows the refrigerant solution to be absorbed or desorbed through the membrane. The UTF also leads to the replacement of large shell and tube heat exchangers with small flat panel heat exchangers, thereby eliminating the entire spray nozzle system, along with associated pumps and controls. This modification is expected to make absorbent refrigeration systems require less maintenance due to the lower air penetration, less metal surface available for corrosion, and absence of spray nozzles.