Before there were electric fans or central air conditioning, there was evaporation. For centuries, people living in hot, arid climates have harnessed the natural occurrence of evaporating water to cool their homes, often through something called the Muscatese Evaporative system. In this low tech set-up, a wooden lattice covers the windows while a porous, water-filled ceramic jar sits inside it. As the air passes through the lattice, the water inside the jar evaporates, depositing a stream of cool air into the home.
As far as air conditioning goes, the passive cooling system was inexpensive and energy-efficient. It also happens to be far more relevant today than you might’ve guessed, as proven by a new project from 3-D printing company Emerging Objects.
The Oakland-based company has translated the phenomenon of evaporative cooling into a 3-D printed ceramic brick it’s calling the Cool Brick. This hand-sized chunk of ceramic is essentially a hybrid of the wooden lattice and ceramic jar rolled into a single, lightweight slab. According to the designers, the porous material is able to soak up water like a sponge, so when air passes through it (much like the wooden lattice), the water held in the micropores evaporates and introduces a cooling effect. ….