Micro-level water-resources engineering—8: Measure that water evaporation! Right now!!

It’s past the middle of May—the hottest time of the year in India.

The day-time is still lengthening. And it will continue doing so well up to the summer solstice in the late June, though once monsoon arrives some time in the first half of June, the solar flux in this part of the world would get reduced due to the cloud cover, and so, any further lengthening of the day would not matter.

In the place where I these days live, the day-time temperature easily goes up to 42–44 deg. C. This high a temperature is, that way, not at all unusual for most parts of Maharashtra; sometimes Pune, which is supposed to be a city of a pretty temperate climate (mainly because of the nearby Sahyaadris), also registers the max. temperatures in the early 40s. But what makes the region where I currently live worse than Pune are these two factors: (i) the minimum temperature too stays as high as 30–32 deg. C here whereas in Pune it could easily be falling to 27–26 deg. C even during May, and (ii) the fall of the temperatures at night-time proceeds very gradually here. On a hot day, it can easily be as high as 38 deg C. even after the sunset, and even 36–37 deg. C right by the time it’s the mid-night; the drop below 35 deg. C occurs only for the 3–4 hours in the early morning, between 4 to 7 AM. In comparison, Pune is way cooler. The max. temperatures Pune registers may be similar, but the evening- and the night-time temperatures fall down much more rapidly there.

There is a lesson for the media here. Media obsesses over the max. temperature (and its record, etc.). That’s because the journos mostly are BAs. (LOL!) But anyone who has studied physics and calculus knows that it’s the integral of temperature with respect to time that really matters, because it is this quantity which scales with the total thermal energy transferred to a body. So, the usual experience common people report is correct. Despite similar max. temperatures, this place is hotter, much hotter than Pune.


And, speaking of my own personal constitution, I can handle a cold weather way better than I can handle—if at all I can handle—a hot weather. [Yes, in short, I’ve been in a bad shape for the past month or more. Lethargic. Lackadaisical. Enervated. You get the idea.]


But why is it that the temperature does not matter as much as the thermal energy does?

Consider a body, say a cube of metal. Think of some hypothetical apparatus that keeps this body at the same cool temperature at all times, say, at 20 deg. C.  Here, choose the target temperature to be lower than the minimum temperature in the day. Assume that the atmospheric temperature at two different places varies between the same limits, say, 42 to 30 deg. C. Since the target temperature is lower than the minimum ambient temperature, you would have to take heat out of the cube at all times.

The question is, at which of the two places the apparatus has to work harder. To answer that question, you have to calculate the total thermal energy that has be drained out of the cube over a single day. To answer this second question, you would need the data of not just the lower and upper limits of the temperature but also how it varies with time between two limits.


The humidity too is lower here as compared to in Pune (and, of course, in Mumbai). So, it feels comparatively much more drier. It only adds to the real feel of a real hot weather.

One does not realize it, but the existence of a prolonged high temperature makes the atmosphere here imperceptibly slowly but also absolutely insurmountably, dehydrating.

Unlike in Mumbai, one does not notice much perspiration here, and that’s because the air is so dry that any perspiration that does occur also dries up very fast. Shirts getting drenched by perspiration is not a very common sight here. Overall, desiccating would be the right word to describe this kind of an air.

So, yes, it’s bad, but you can always take precautions. Make sure to drink a couple of glasses of cool water (better still, fresh lemonade) before you step out—whether you are thirsty or not. And take an onion with you when you go out; if you begin to feel too much of heat, you can always crush the onion with hand and apply the juice onto the top of your head. [Addendum: A colleague just informed me that it’s even better to actually cut the onion and keep its cut portion touching to your body, say inside your shirt. He has spent summers in eastern Maharashtra, where temperatures can reach 47 deg. C. … Oh well!]

Also, eat a lot more onions than you normally do.

And, once you return home, make sure not to drink water immediately. Wait for 5–10 minutes. Otherwise, the body goes into a shock, and the ensuing transient spikes in your biological metabolism can, at times, even trigger the sun-stroke—which can even be fatal. A simple precaution helps avoid it.

For the same reason, take care to sit down in the shade of a tree for a few minutes before you eat that slice of water-melon. Water-melon is nothing but more than 95% water, thrown with a little sugar, some fiber, and a good measure of minerals. All in all, good for your body because even if the perspiration is imperceptible in the hot and dry regions, it is still occurring, and with it, the body is being drained of the necessary electrolytes and minerals. … Lemonades and water-melons supply the electrolytes and the minerals. People do take care not to drink lemonade in the Sun, but they don’t always take the same precaution for water-melon. Yet, precisely because a water-melon has so much water, you should take care not to expose your body to a shock. [And, oh, BTW, just in case you didn’t know already, the doctor-recommended alternative to Electral powder is: your humble lemonade! Works exactly equivalently!!]


Also, the very low levels of humidity also imply that in places like this, the desert-cooler is effective, very effective. The city shops are full of them. Some of these air-coolers sport a very bare-bones design. Nothing fancy like the Symphony Diet cooler (which I did buy last year in Pune!). The air-coolers locally made here can be as simple as just an open tray at the bottom to hold the water, a cube made of a coarse wire-mesh which is padded with the khus/wood sheathings curtain, and a robust fan operating [[very] noisily]. But it works wonderfully. And these local-made air-coolers also are very inexpensive. You can get one for just Rs. 2,500 or 3,000. I mean the ones which have a capacity to keep at least 3–4 people cool.(Branded coolers like the one I bought in Pune—and it does work even in Pune—often go above Rs. 10,000. [I bought that cooler last year because I didn’t have a job, thanks to the Mechanical Engineering Professors in the Savitribai Phule Pune University.])


That way, I also try to think of the better things this kind of an air brings. How the table salt stays so smoothly flowing, how the instant coffee powder or Bournvita never turns into a glue, how an opened packet of potato chips stays so crisp for days, how washed clothes dry up in no time…

Which, incidentally, brings me to the topic of this post.


The middle—or the second half—of May also is the most ideal time to conduct evaporation experiments.

If you are looking for a summer project, here is one: to determine the evaporation rate in your locality.

Take a couple of transparent plastic jars of uniform cross section. The evaporation rate is not very highly sensitive to the cross-sectional area, but it does help to take a vessel or a jar of sizeable diameter.

Affix a mm scale on the outside of each jar, say using cello-tape. Fill the plastic jars to some level almost to the full.

Keep one jar out in the open (exposed to the Sun), and another one, inside your home, in the shade. For the jar kept outside, make sure that birds don’t come and drink the water, thereby messing up with your measurements. For this purpose, you may surround the jar with an enclosure having a coarse mesh. The mesh must be coarse; else it will reduce the solar flux. The “reduction in the solar flux” is just a fancy [mechanical [thermal] engineering] term for saying that the mesh, if too fine, might cast too significant a shadow.

Take measurements of the heights of the water daily at a fixed time of the day, say at 6:00 PM. Conduct the experiment for a week or 10 days.

Then, plot a graph of the daily water level vs. the time elapsed, for each jar.

Realize, the rate of evaporation is measured in terms of the fall in the height, and not in terms of the volume of water lost. That’s because once the exposed area is bigger than some limit, the evaporation rate (the loss in height) is more or less independent of the cross-sectional area.

Now figure out:

Does the evaporation rate stay the same every day? If there is any significant departure from a straight-line graph, how do you explain it? Was there a measurement error? Was there an unusually strong wind on a certain day? a cloud cover?

Repeat the experiment next winter (around the new year), and determine the rate of evaporation at that time.

Later on, also make some calculations. If you are building a check-dam or a farm-pond, how much would be the evaporation loss over the five months from January to May-end? Is the height of your water storage system enough to make it practically useful? economically viable?


A Song I Like:

(Hindi) “mausam aayegaa, jaayegaa, pyaar sadaa muskuraayegaa…”
Music: Manas Mukherjee
Singers: Manna Dey and Asha Bhosale
Lyrics: Vithalbhai Patel

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Analyzing the Eco-Cooler, part 1

OK, that was ample time for you to have hit your fluid mech/heat transfer/thermo books, and to have it verified whether the 5 deg. C drop was believable or not… You must have made your notes, too, no?…  So, in this post, let’s cross-check our notes.


On my part, I will first present the simplest (and the most approximate) model, and also give you a simple Python script to play with, to see what kind of predictions this model makes. Then, we will go on considering more and more complicated but still approximate “engineering” models that hopefully become more and more realistic. We will cross-check their predictions too. We may eventually find that a full-fledged CFD analysis is called for. However, I will save that—I mean doing a full-fledged CFD analysis—for another day. (I in fact plan to write a paper on this problem, using CFD. (…Some day…).)

The reason we follow this method—from the simplest and crudest models to the more complicated and better ones—is because for problems related to fluid mechanics, it is this method which works best!

I mean to say, the full-fledged Navier-Stokes equations are too complicated to solve for, even when they are applied to the simplest of practically encountered geometries—e.g., the flow of air through the Eco-Cooler bottle. Since the NS equations cannot be solved exactly, the traditional engineering models (which are based on analytical or semi-analytical solutions) fall short, and then, a CFD analysis is called for.

But the fact of the matter also is, even CFD itself is only an approximate technique. CFD solutions sometimes even happen to carry more numerical artifacts than real physics. We therefore cannot approach CFD blindly. We ourselves have to have some good idea in the first place of what the desired solution should look like. We should have this idea right before we even think of setting up a CFD model/simulation. The traditional engineering models provide precisely these insights.

Yes, that’s right.

The traditional engineering models actually are more approximate than CFD. Yet, since they are also simpler than CFD, and since they explicitly carry conceptual connections with the major fluid mechanical phenomena in a more direct manner, they also make it easier to gain insights about both the nature of the problem, and the nature of the expected solution. No similar insights can be had by directly using CFD, for several reasons. The CFD theory itself is too complicated, and the CFD practice involves too many different analysis options. In the jungle of all those parameters, iterations, and convergence requirements, CFD happens to loose the directness of the conceptual connections with the basic analytical theory—with the fluid dynamical phenomena.

That’s why we first deal with the simplest engineering models, even though they are known to be approximate—and therefore, they are easily capable of giving us wrong results. But this way, we can build insights. Building insights is an art, and the process progresses slowly.

As I said, we will follow an iterative scheme of model building. In each phase or iteration of the model building activity, we will actually be applying the same set of principles: the conservation of mass, momentum, and energy. However, in going from a model-building phase to the next, we will aim to incorporate an increasing level of complexity or sophistication—and accuracy, hopefully.

Actually, in the fluid dynamics theory, all the three conservation equations come coupled to each other. You cannot solve for conservation of only the mass, or the momentum, or the energy, by neglecting any of the other two. However, for this particular problem (of the Eco-Cooler), for various reasons (which you will come to appreciate slowly), it so turns out that we can get away considering the mass, momentum and energy equations in a decoupled manner, and in the order stated: first mass, then momentum, and then energy. (It’s no accident that text-books spell out these three principles in this order. Many fluids-related phenomena with which we are well familiar through our direct experience of the world are such that for solving problems involving these phenomena, this order happens to be the best one to follow.)

So, with that big introduction, let’s now get going calculating—even though we will not shut up even while performing those calculations.


Model-Building Phase I: The Simplest Possible Model:

Geometry:

Consider the plastic-bottles used in the Eco-Cooler; they all lie horizontally. Consider one of these bottles. A tube has been obtained by cutting off the base of the bottle. Let the base-plane be identified by the subscript 1 and the neck-plane by 2. See the figure below:

diagram1

 

 

 

 

Air flows from the base-plane (1) to the neck-plane (2).

Conservation of mass:

The simplest possible expression for mass conservation, applied to the bottle geometry, would be the continuity equation, given below:
A_1 U_1 = A_2 U_2
where A_1 and A_2 are cross-sectional areas of the bottle, and U_1 and U_2 are wind velocities, at the base and the neck, respectively. Rearranging for U_2, we get:
U_2 = \dfrac{A_1}{A_2} U_1             …(1)

We can use this simple an equation for mass conservation only if the flow is incompressible. To determine if our flow is incompressible or not, we have to calculate the Mach number for the flow. To do that, we have to first know the expected wind velocities.

Referring to the Wiki article on the Beaufort scale [^], we may make an assumption that the inlet speed can go up to about 60 kmph. Actually, the wind-speeds covered by the Beaufort scale go much higher (in excess of 118 kmph). However, practically speaking, the only times such high wind-speeds (gales etc.) occur in India is when rains also accompany them. The rains bring down the ambient temperature anyway, thereby obviating the need for any form of a cooler. Thus, we have to consider only the lower range of speeds.

Assuming the speed of sound in air to be about 340 m/s, we find that the Mach number (for the range of the winds we consider) goes up to about 0.65. Now, for \text{Ma} < 0.33, the flow is sub-sonic, and can be regarded as incompressible. For 0.33 < \text{Ma} < 1.0, the flow is trans-sonic, meaning, the changes in pressures do not adjust “instantaneously” everywhere in the flow, and so, it is increasingly not possible to even idealize the flow as incompressible.

Therefore, in the interest of simplicity, for our first solution cut, we choose to consider only the wind-speeds up to 100 m/s, i.e. 28 kmph, so that the incompressibility assumption can be justified. Making this assumption about the highest possible wind-speed, we are then free to use the simplest form of mass conservation equation given above as Eq. (1).

For a typical one liter bottle, the base diameter is 7.5 cm, and the neck diameter is 2 cm (both referring to IDs i.e. inner diameters). (I measured them myself!) So, the area ratio \frac{A_1}{A_2} turns out to be about 14.

Thus, the wind accelerates inside the bottle; the outlet velocity is about 14 times the inlet velocity!

This looks like a remarkable bit of acceleration to happen over just some 20 cm of length. (The bottle is cut somewhere in the middle.) More on it, later.

Conservation of momentum:

The simplest possible equation to use for momentum conservation is the steady-state Bernoulli’s equation:
\dfrac{P_1}{\rho} + \dfrac{U_1^2}{2} = \dfrac{P_2}{\rho} + \dfrac{U_2^2}{2}        …(2)
where we have ignored the potential head term (gz) because the tube is horizontal as well as symmetrical about its central horizontal axis (and because the air is so thin that its weight can be easily neglected here).

Carefully note the assumptions behind Eq (2). It holds only for a steady-state and laminar flow, and only after neglecting viscosity.

Since we are in a hurry, we will assume them all, and proceed!

Rearranging Eq (2) for P_2, we obtain:
P_2 = P_1 + \dfrac{\rho}{2} \left( U_1^2 - U_2^2 \right)

Conservation of energy:

We basically need the equation of energy conservation only in order to calculate the temperature at the neck (T_2), from a knowledge of: (i) the temperature at the base, T_1, and (ii) the pressures P_1 and P_2.

In the last line, I said “from.” This usage implies that there already is an assumption I made, viz., that the energy equation can be decoupled from the momentum equation. How reasonable is this assumption? It seems pretty OK. Think: can air flowing through a 7.5 cm or a 2.0 cm diameter tube at under 100 m/s get heated up to a significant fraction of 5 deg. C, over a length of just a foot or less? Not likely. Can heating up the neck region cause the air flow to come a halt, say because it helps build up a sufficient amount of pressure? Not even remotely likely. So, we may get away by decoupling the two.

The simplest equation to compute T_2 from the other three quantities would be: the ideal gas law, given as:
\dfrac{P_1 V_1}{T_1} = \dfrac{P_2 V_2}{T_2}.

We have already found that the flow can be considered incompressible (at least up to 28 kmph of wind-speeds). Hence, the volume of each fluid part remains constant, i.e., V_1 = V_2. (Note, in this equation, we have to consider the volume of a fluid element or a part, not the volume for a unit axial length at a given cross-section of the bottle.) For constant volume, the ideal gas law reduces to:
\dfrac{P_1}{T_1} = \dfrac{P_2}{T_2},
from which we can conclude:
T_2 = P_2 \dfrac{T_1}{P_1}.

But we have to know whether the assumption of the ideal gas itself can be used in our problem—for the real air—or not. For doing that, we have to know the critical pressure and temperature of air. Cengel (“Thermodynamics: An Engineering Approach,” 8th SI units edition) lists them (Appendix A1) as 132.5 K, and 3.77 MPa. Using these values, the reduced temperature and the reduced pressure of air turn out to be T_{1_R} = (30 + 273.15)/132.5 \approx 2.29, and P_{1_R} = (101.32\times10^3)/(3.77\times 10^6) \approx 0.027. Further, the expected drops in the pressure and temperature would be just small fractions of the inlet values. Hence, the reduced quantities for the outlet also would not differ significantly from those for the inlet. Referring to the chart and the remarks on p. 139 in Cengel, it seems like we can get away using the ideal gas law.

Note, we are using the ideal gas law not as an approximation to the energy equation, but in place of it, simply because looking at the variables, we noticed that T_2 had to be determined from the other three variables, and this set of variables reminded us of the ideal gas law! Then, referring to the reduced pressure and temperature, the ideal gas approximation seemed to be OK. In short, we have not directly considered the energy conservation principle at all. We may subsequently have an occasion to revisit this issue.

Assumed data:

Now, let us make assumptions about the data to be used for our calculations.

Suppose that the ambient temperature is 30 deg C, and the Eco-Cooler is kept at the mean sea level (MSL), say by the sea-side (rather than somewhere on a slope going down into the Death Valley [^]). Now, seated at a sea-side, the evaporative cooler isn’t going to be feasible because of humidity, and that’s the reason why we are at all considering using the Eco-Cooler. Alright. So to wrap up this point, we have to use data values at the MSL.

Suppose that we can use the ambient MSL atmospheric pressure for the inlet of the bottle; it would then mean that P_1 = 101330 Pa. (Note, this is an assumption; like with many other assumptions, we may have occasion to revisit it later on.) The air density at MSL and at 30 deg. C may be taken to be \rho = 1.169 kg/m^3. (Minor changes to this value turn out to have minimal impact on the predictions, so it’s OK to use, even if we might have made a mistake in looking it up hurriedly.)

For wind-speeds, let’s assume that the speed at the inlet (i.e., at the base of the bottle, which is exposed to the outside) is the same as the ambient wind-speed. (Again, this is an assumption; we may have the occasion to revisit it later on.)

Since the wind-speeds vary, and since the pressure drop (and hence the temperature drop) obviously depends on the inlet wind-speed, we will have to repeat our calculations for each wind-speed, again and again.

Referring again to the Wiki article for the Beaufort scale [^], to have representative wind-speed values, we choose to take the averages of the lower and upper wind speeds which together define the range for each wind-grade on the Beaufort scale. Thus, our U_1 could be one of: 0.5, 3.0, 8.5, 15.5, 24.0, 33.5, 44.0, all in kmph.

We are now ready to do our calculations. To recap: First, we calculate U_2 from U_1 using the continuity (mass conservation) equation and the known area ratio (which is about 14). Then we substitute the data in the re-arranged Bernoulli’s equation (which brings in its own assumptions) and obtain P_2, the pressure at the outlet (i.e. the neck of the bottle). From the ideal gas law (being used in place of the energy equation proper), we then calculate T_2.

Python script:

We use a Python script only because the calculations for T_2 have to be repeated again and again for different wind-speeds. Anyway, here is the Python script:

'''
This Python script calculates the expected
outlet temperature for a bottle in the Eco-Cooler.
See the relevant blog posts by Ajit R. Jadhav.
All units are in SI.
'''

d1 = 7.5 # ID at the inlet (i.e. at the base), in cm
d2 = 2.0 # ID at the outlet (i.e. at the neck), in cm
AR = (d1*d1)/(d2*d2) # Area ratio for the bottle

T1 = 30.0 # Ambient temp., in deg. C
T1 = T1 + 273.15 # Conversion from deg. C to K
rho = 1.169 # Density of air, in kg/m^3
P1 = 101330 # Ambient pressure, in Pa

# The Beaufort Scale wind speeds in kmph, and their text descriptions
bsa = [0.5, 3.0, 8.5, 15.5, 24.0, 33.5, 44.0]
bsta = ["Calm","Light air", "Light breeze", "Gentle breeze", "Moderate breeze", "Fresh breeze", "Strong breeze"]

# Calculate the expected temperatures for various wind-speeds
for i in range(7):
    s1 = bsa[i] # wind-speed, in kmph
    sText = bsta[i] # wind-speed description

    U1 = s1 / 3.6 # conversion from kmph to m/s
    U2 = U1*AR

    # Calculate P2 using Bernoulli's equation
    P2 = P1 + rho*(U1*U1 - U2*U2)/2.0

    # Calculate T2 using the ideal gas law
    T2 = T1*P2/P1
    TC = T2 - 273.15 # conversion from K to deg. C
    print( "%20s %6.1f %6.2lf %10.0f %6.1f" % (sText, s1, U1, P2, TC) )
    

The program written using Python is so simple, that you can very easily modify it, say to report any additional calculations that were made along the way.

Output data:

Here is the output data I get. The columns are: wind description in words, wind speed in kmph, wind speed in m/s, outlet pressure, and outlet temperature:

    Wind Description        U_1        P2, Pa   T2, deg. C                     
                        kmph  m/s      
                Calm    0.5   0.14     101328   30.0
           Light air    3.0   0.83     101250   29.8
        Light breeze    8.5   2.36     100689   28.1
       Gentle breeze   15.5   4.31      99198   23.6
     Moderate breeze   24.0   6.67      96219   14.7
        Fresh breeze   33.5   9.31      91372    0.2
       Strong breeze   44.0  12.22      84151  -21.4
       

Interpretation of results:

Our model predicts that when the breeze is strong (but less strong than when the tube is held near the window of a car that is traveling on an expressway), we should get ice formation at the neck of the bottle—in fact, it should be a super-cooled ice!

From your knowledge of what happens on the Indian sea-side, do you expect a mere half-foot tube of variable diameter, to begin to have ice-formation at its neck?

Obviously, the model we dreamt up has gone wrong somewhere. …

… But precisely where? … We have made so many assumptions…. Which of these assumptions are likely to have impacted our analysis the most? In what all places should we bring in the corrections to our model?

I have already given a lot of explicit notes—not just hints—while writing down the analysis above. So, go through the entire post once again, now pausing especially at the assumptions, and think how we may go on to improve our model.

I will return to the business of improving our model, in my next post.

And as always, sure drop me a line if you think I am going wrong somewhere.

… For instance, also give it a thought as to whether my analysis scheme, based on fluid mechanics, itself is wrong or what. … Here, you may want to refer to the comments on the blog post I had linked to last time [^], esp. the comments made there by Arnaut Jaspers and others. (Jaspers’ and others’ comments appear somewhere in the middle of all the comments, so you have to ask the Web page to load more comments some 3–4 times; the exact URL where the comments in question begin is this: [^]).

Alright, enjoy!


Ummm… Since I have given you Python scripts to play with, guess the usual section on a song I like has become redundant. So, let me mention the “other” song (re. my last post) when I finish this series of posts—which will take one, or at the most two more posts).


[I may come back and cross-check the latex entries in this post, grammar, etc., later on today itself, when I may perhaps edit this post just a bit, but not much. Done on 2016.10.02 itself.]

[E&OE]

 

A few remarks on the Eco-Cooler

While generally browsing ISHRAE[^]’s Web site after a long while today, I ran into this coverage of the so-called Eco-Cooler [^] in their News Section.

… My earlier coverage of another creative usage of the used plastic bottles was here: [^] (see the “farm ponds” section in that post).

Anyway, coming back to the Eco-Cooler, a simple Google search on the inventor’s name (“Ashis Paul”) will give you quite a few links, e.g. here [^] and here [^]. A sketchy story as to how Paul ended up inventing the cooler is mentioned here [^].


The idea is so simple that you just have to wonder why no one else thought of it before!

Apart from the cultural reasons (people in this part of the world arguably don’t always try to tackle their life’s problems creatively; they arguably just sit idle and whine and complain) the other reason, I think, is that to a learned engineer (and I will call myself that), it would be difficult to think that the cooling effect obtained this way could be significant—the claim is a drop of up to 5 degrees Celcius (i.e. 9 degrees Fahrenheit) in the room temperature!

… I don’t know why, but somehow, at least on the face of it, a claim of this big a temperature drop does seem unbelievable, at least initially.


Anyway, here are a few things you could pursue, especially if you are a student of mechanical engineering:

  • First, name (or hit your text books and find out) the principle that explains the cooling effect.
  • Then, assume suitable values for the air flow, and using the appropriate thermodynamic/psychrometric charts and property tables, determine whether the inventor’s claim is acceptable. (I have not done this cross-check myself before writing this post; I just assumed that someone at ISHRAE must have done it!)
  • Now check out the DIY YouTube videos on this invention. If interested, think of building an Eco-Cooler and measuring its performance yourself. (And if you do that, and if you are from Pune or a nearby place, then do drop me a line. I would love to come over and check it out myself.) Alternatively, think of doing a “simple” CFD analysis and compute the estimated temperature drop. [… And to think how people keep asking me where I get all my student-project ideas from!]

Next are a few notings (assuming that the cooling effect is indeed big enough) to help you put it all in the right context, and then also some pointers as to how you could try and modify (and even optimize) the existing design.

  • Bamboo Curtains: First, try to put it in some context: People in India often use bamboo “chaTai”s or mats [^] as window covers/curtains. (Also the khus curtains.) Some of these “chaTai”s do carry regularly spaced holes. Do such mats (or even Venetian blinds) give rise to any cooling effect? Can they? Why or why not?
  • Flow Pattern: Using ink blobs or other tracers in a flow of water, visualize the geometry of the flow going into a hole, and ask yourself: Is a bottle surface at all necessary? Why? When?
  • Shape and Size: Would you get a better effect if you modify the dimensions of the bottles used in the Eco-Cooler? Is the size of the water bottle optimal? How about the shape?
  • Mounting: What if you mount the bottles on the board not at the neck but at the base? Would it be more stable? Would it be more convenient because nothing goes protruding outside the room? Many questions below assume mouting on the base, such that the bottles come protruding inside the room. Let me call it the Internally Protrduding Design (IPD for short), as compared to the Externally Protruding Design (EPD, which is shown in the original photographs and videos).
  • Materials: How about changing the material? What if you use clay for the tube?
  • Evaporative Cooling: Assume IPD. Would keeping the clay tubes wet help enhance the cooling? You could keep them wet via a simple system of water from an overhead tank running over or percolating through the thickness of the clay tubes. For this purpose, arrange the base circles in a hexagonal lattice arrangement (rather than the simple square lattice they show in the original sketches and videos). In any case, compare the cooling obtained using the dry Eco-Cooler vs. that using the desert cooler. Then, compare it with the wet Eco-Cooler. To do that, first find out the natural cooling limitations of the desert cooler. (Something like this was a unit test question I had asked my ME (Heat Power) students last year.) Where would the wet Eco-Cooler be more effective—in the humid coastal areas (e.g. in Mumbai), or in the dry-and-hot areas (like in the plains or Delhi)?
  • Cooling Achieved: Estimate the size of the biggest room that may be effectively cooled using EPD. Repeat for IPD. Also find out (by CFD analysis or by experiment) the locations where the cooling would be effective enough to bring (at least a bit of) comfort to a human being.
  • Forced Circulation: What if you use forced air circulation with IPD? Would it lead to any better cooling? Don’t guess! Bring out your charts, tables and calculators once again, assume suitable values for fans, and provide a quantitative estimate. Then, also figure out if a forced air circulation could be economical enough.
  • Enhanced Natural Circulation: (Assume both designs in turn.) Think if you could possibly enhance the natural air circulation by using some simple cardboard flaps erected on the outside of the room. (Do a quick-and-simple CFD analysis if you wish.)
  • Radiation: How much of the temperature drop can be attributed to the obvious reduction in the radiative heating alone?
  • Internal Reflection: Is the total internal reflection an important factor here? Would using clay tubes (of varying cross section) reduce the glare due to total internal reflection?
  • Noise Generation: Does the arrangement emit sound (as in a patch of bamboo trees)?
  • Aesthetics: Assume IPD: Think of how the cooler design may be used creatively for aesthetic enhancements of the room interiors in a middle-class apartment or bungalow. (The cooler doesn’t have to be used only in the slums!) Could ready-made panels of standard sizes be made in clay or alternative materials (e.g. cheap ceramics) just as cost-effectively? Would painting the bottles help?
  • Reverberations: Assume IPD: Refer to technical acoustics. Can you reduce the sound reverberations if you use such shapes near walls? Could plastic bottles be at all effective in this respect? How about the clay tubes? Would the existence of the holes modify the sound-dampening effect due to the protruding tubes? Would they introduce unwanted modulations? Estimate the range of sound-frequencies (or of musical tones) that stand to get impacted (for the better or for the worse) due to the presence of the Eco-Cooler.

Enjoy…


A Song I Like:

(Hindi) “too laalee hai savere waalee, gagan rang de tu mere man kaa…”
Music: Sapan-Jagmohan
Singers: Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosale
Lyrics: Indivar Naqsh Lyallpuri [^]

[BTW, this song reminds me of another song which has a similar tune. (I don’t know music well enough to make out “raaga”s. In fact, I often cannot even make out tones! I can only compare the tones in a hand-waving sort of a manner, that’s all! … It’s just that sometimes I happen to notice some similarities.) See if you can guess it—the other song. I will tell you the answer in my next post.]

[I have a habit of coming back and modifying my post a bit even after publication. But guess, at least for this post, there really isn’t anything left to add or modify.  Actually, I did modify! [sigh!] I clarified the two designs and even added the names for them. I even changed the title a bit!!…  Anyway, bye for now, and take care…]

[E&OE]