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Building Technologies

Radiative Sky Cooling to Make Refrigeration Systems More Efficient

Company Name: SkyCool Systems
Program Office: Buildings
Location: Burlingame, CA
Award Amount: $150,000
Project Term: 12 months
Project Status: Active
Participating Lab(s): Oak Ridge National Laboratory


Convenience stores, supermarkets, and cold storage facilities face a pressing challenge: refrigeration is essential for their operations, but is responsible for over 50 percent of their electricity use. Many of these companies operate on razor-thin profit margins, so efficiency is an attractive option. But existing options for boosting refrigeration efficiency are few.

SkyCool Systems has developed a radically new way of cooling by harnessing an untapped resource: the cold sky. Using breakthroughs in optical materials and a phenomenon known as radiative sky cooling, SkyCool Systems' core product is a rooftop-mounted fluid cooling panel that passively cools, 24 hours a day. When added to conventional refrigeration systems, this technology can improve efficiency by as much as 10 percent.

While SkyCool Systems has developed the core technology, it needs support to validate the integration of its panels with refrigeration systems, and to model the technology's performance in a range of climate zones. This is a key request from potential customers and partners.

By working with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, SkyCool Systems will be able to demonstrate to partners and customers that its technology works in real operating scenarios, provide third-party validation, and project performance throughout the country using a validated model. This will enable the technology's wider adoption, improving both energy efficiency and the bottom line for companies in these industries, and enabling more efficient cooling in general.


Today's approaches to cooling rely on vapor-compression technology, whose performance depends on the ambient air temperature. Improving refrigeration efficiency in this context is challenging, and has typically required the use of evaporative systems, which introduce substantial maintenance costs. Other approaches have pursued shifting loads to other times of day, but these efforts do not meaningfully improve the underlying efficiency of the refrigeration systems.

SkyCool Systems' approach — radiative sky cooling — represents the only known zero-electricity, non-evaporative means of cooling 24 hours a day. SkyCool's systems supplement conventional vapor compression systems and improve efficiency throughout the day — unique and highly desirable characteristics for refrigeration technology.


This SBV Pilot will provide crucial third-party validation and performance projection that will allow SkyCool Systems to commercialize its technology and deploy its systems with pilot customers in the coming year. SkyCool systems will cut energy use and boost the financial performance of businesses that depend heavily on refrigeration, including convenience stores, supermarkets and cold storage facilities across the country. Cutting back on energy usage in these widespread and energy-intensive businesses will also cut back on pollution and help the environment.

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