Friday, August 18, 2017

A Brilliant Idea from a Time Long Past

Ancient Arab cultures were known for great advances in science and mathematics. With the intervention of Alexander this led to the great library of Alexandria, actually two libraries. Julius Caesar is said to have accidentally destroyed the main library when he used fire to defend Alexandria against a maritime assault. The second was destroyed in the 4th century A.D. by the Christian emperor Theodosius. All that knowledge wiped out.

But not quite all. There is something that has survived, something that may become more vital than ever - the Windcatcher.

We know that many deserts are insufferably hot by day and unbearably cold at night. A Windcatcher uses the cool of night to cool the day inside a structure. Windows are only placed in walls that don't face the sun. Tall towers or chimneys are likewise constructed to use prevailing winds to draw hot air out of the structures beneath in a system that draws cooler air upward from cellars. It's a technology that goes back to 4000 years B.C.E.

The beauty is that it's all natural, after initial construction. It can work without electricity or fossil fuel energy. There's even something along the same lines in the subterranean village that once housed a Tatooine farmboy, Luke Skywalker.


Jay Farquharson said...

Texas A/C,

Basically, a PVC "snake" is run through the ground, below the frost line, connected at one end to the fresh air intake of the homes furnace, ( not the combustion inlet,), the other end, connected to a screened inlet, above ground enough to be above the snow line.

In summer, fresh air is drawn in, cooled by the ground to 58c on average in Canada, and recirculated by the furnaces fan function.

In winter, cold winter air is drawn in, heated by the ground to roughly 56c, then heated by the furnace, ( at a cost savings of roughly 48%).

The Mound of Sound said...

Except that it was Egyptian A/C four thousand years before it became Texas A/C. I experienced the "wind tower" system in the Cooks where the islanders had a church in Rarotonga built out of blocks of pink coral. The tall chimney was also designed to draw hot air out of the church allowing cooler breezes from the water to be drawn in. It worked beautifully.