OZONE IS THE SAFEST ZONE!
It’s the World Ozone today and the theme for 2021 is “‘Montreal Protocol — Keeping us, our food, and vaccines cool’” to highlight the long-term results of the 35-year-old protocol, the first ever to be ratified by all the 197 members of the United Nations. This day celebrates the collective decisions and actions, guided by science, that is the only way to solve major global crises. In this year of the COVID-19 pandemic that has brought such social and economic hardship, the ozone treaties’ message of working together in harmony and for the collective good is more important than ever.
With the startup ecosystem increasing and evolving with each passing year, it becomes equally important to understand the importance of clean-tech innovations for residential cooling purposes. This year Sangam Team is planning to highlight the importance of natural cooling systems. The phaseout of controlled uses of ozone-depleting substances and the related reductions have not only helped protect the ozone layer but have also contributed significantly to global efforts to address climate change, furthermore, it has to protect human health and ecosystems by limiting the harmful ultraviolet radiation from reaching the Earth.
But before we dive deep into the cleantech innovations, let’s understand the basics of Ozone Layer Preservation.
What is Ozone?
The ozone layer is the common term for the high concentration of ozone that is found in the stratosphere around 15–30km above the earth’s surface. It covers the entire planet and protects life on earth by absorbing harmful ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation from the sun.
Image Credit: Mike Doyle
What are the impacts of UV Radiation?
Exposure to UV rays can cause serious health problems:
UV rays are responsible for sunburn.
Exposure to UV rays can cause premature aging of the skin and signs of sun damage such as wrinkles, leathery skin, liver spots, actinic keratosis, and solar elastosis.
UV rays can also cause eye problems. They can cause the cornea (on the front of the eye) to become inflamed or burned. They can also lead to the formation of cataracts (clouding of the lens of the eye) and pterygium (tissue growth on the surface of the eye), both of which can impair vision.
Exposure to UV rays can also weaken the immune system so that the body has a harder time fending off infections. This can lead to problems such as reactivation of herpes triggered by exposure to the sun or other sources of UV rays. It can also cause vaccines to be less effective.
Apart from the health problems UV rays also lead to stunted growth of certain plants and crop losses which impact agriculture and threaten food security.
How was the link between CFCs and Ozone Hole was discovered?
In 1974, chemists Mario Molina and Frank Sherwood Rowland discovered a link between CFCs and the breakdown of ozone in the stratosphere. In 1985, geophysicist Joe Farman, along with meteorologists Brian G Gardiner and Jon Shanklin published findings of abnormally low ozone concentrations above the Antarctic, which galvanized worldwide action.
What is Ozone Depletion?
The ozone layer is depleted in two ways. Firstly, the ozone layer in the mid-latitude (e.g., over Australia) is thinned, leading to more UV radiation reaching the earth. Secondly, the ozone layer over the Antarctic, and to a lesser extent the Arctic, is dramatically thinned in spring, leading to an ‘ozone hole’.
What are Ozone Depleting Substances?
Several commonly used chemicals are extremely damaging to the ozone layer. Halocarbons are chemicals in which one or more carbon atoms are linked to one or more halogen atoms (fluorine, chlorine, bromine, or iodine). Halocarbons containing bromine usually have much higher ozone-depleting potential (ODP) than those containing chlorine. The man-made chemicals that have provided most of the chlorine and bromine for ozone depletion are methyl bromide, methyl chloroform, carbon tetrachloride, and families of chemicals known as halons, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs).
What measures were taken to preserve the Ozone Layer?
The Montreal Protocol was designed to stop the production and import of ozone-depleting substances and reduce their concentration in the atmosphere to help protect the earth’s ozone layer. It started life as a global agreement to protect the ozone layer. A united global effort to phase out ozone-depleting substances to heal the hole in the ozone layer, in turn protecting human health, economies, and ecosystems.
To keep protecting our Ozone Layer we need to go back in time and learn from our history where humans developed efficient cooling systems and one of the most prominent examples is of Hawa Mahal in Jaipur, Rajasthan. It’s based predominantly on the ‘Venturi Effect’ in Physics. The 953 perforations in the façade serve as a device that generates wind for those who stand inside at its ramping corridors. The fractal design, with its self-repeating pattern at every scale — scaling up to the fourth floor where one can spot the Brihat Samrat Yantra, the tallest sundial at the Jantar Mantar. The air blown through is compressed, similar to the modern-day air-conditioner, and is reflected through its curvy linear bay windows. The Hawa Mahal is made of limestone, thus making it a very climate-responsive building. The innovators today should take inspiration from the wonderful work of architecture of the past and come up with solutions that can make a difference today!
We at Sangam have always believed that action combined with innovation is the biggest solution to all problems. One such innovation that is worth mentioning today is the ‘Beehive, Natural Cooler’ by the Ant Studio in Delhi which is designed for Cafes, Restaurants, Farmhouses (outdoor cooling), and Residencies. Their innovation provides a natural cooling solution that is made of natural materials like terracotta and uses evaporative cooling instead of CFCs. Conventional HVAC systems use refrigerants harmful to the ozone layer, while other cooling systems use potent greenhouse gases which result in global warming and impact the formation of the Ozone Layer as Ozone needs a particular temperature to form.
The Ant Studio’s natural cooling innovation, therefore, is a more sustainable alternative to air cooling, especially for outdoor areas. Also, their products are not just Ozone-friendly but are handmade, thus increasing local employment opportunities as well. Isn’t it amazing that when our world is in the middle of a pandemic there is an innovation that protects our planet but also provides economic opportunities to the locals?
What makes them stand out is their cooling systems which use minimal plastic for production, and promote eco-friendly materials for construction like terracotta. As no CFCs are used for cooling, therefore there is negligible harm to the atmosphere. Not just that but their technology is customizable as well as aesthetic, giving the user a product that can be used as a decoration item as well.
As we take a look at such innovations, we see a positive picture for our future which assures us that the human race still stands a chance! But do you know as an individual you can help too!
You can buy air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment that does not use HCFCs as the refrigerant.
Reduce your use of aerosol products that use HCFCs or CFCs as propellants.
Conduct regular inspection and maintenance of air-conditioning and refrigeration appliances to prevent and minimize refrigerant leakage.
For existing air-conditioning and refrigeration appliances that operate on HCFCs or CFCs, the refrigerant should be recovered or recycled whenever an overhaul of equipment is to be carried out.
When motor vehicle air-conditioners need servicing, make sure that the refrigerants are properly recovered and recycled instead of being vented into the atmosphere.
Switch off your air conditioning at traffic signals, and use ACs above 24 degrees — saves electricity as well.
Our efforts have made a difference in protecting the Ozone Layer and we must continue to protect the ozone layer for future generations!
Blog Credits: Shikhita Gupta