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Profile Bob DeWoody
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Message 1530168 - Posted: 20 Jun 2014, 8:10:25 UTC
Last modified: 20 Jun 2014, 8:38:41 UTC

Many years ago while a student at the University of Central Florida I had a professor by the name of Edwards. He had invented a car air conditioner that operated only with compressed air, and it worked. He actually built a working model that had worked in Florida's hot and humid environment. At that time he was trying to sell his patents to one of the big three auto makers without much luck. Their objection was the level of noise it made but he was sure that problem could be licked with further development. After I graduated I forgot about it until recently.

When I tried to look it up on the internet I found an article that was in a 1976 issue of "Popular Science" touting the system's potential. But then it seemed to vanish off the face of the planet. With the environmental issues surrounding the fluids that are still being used in air conditioners I find it strange that Mr. Edwards invention has disappeared.

Btw it was called Rovac.
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Message 1530232 - Posted: 20 Jun 2014, 13:39:00 UTC

There are a few air-cycle air conditioners around, you just have to look to find them. LiebHerr did one a few years back that was trialled on a few trains, but it was found to be unreliable due to bearing problems within the air motor driven compressor (due to the shock & vibrations of a train). I'm not sure what's happened to them since, but I'm certain they would be a "good idea" in the building services industry.
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Message 1530324 - Posted: 20 Jun 2014, 18:38:46 UTC
Last modified: 20 Jun 2014, 18:39:00 UTC

Air cycle air conditioners are very common on turbine powered aircraft, where you have a handy source of compressed air at the engine. They are cheap to build and light, but they do burn extra fuel to make the compressed air, and may limit the maximum engine power on hot days. Anyone old enough to remember the Boeing 727 may remember uncomfortable cabins during takeoffs at small airport on hot days. They had to turn off the a/c to get up in the air.

Mr. Edward's system had to get compressed air from somewhere, maybe the total system cost couldn't compete with traditional systems.
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Message 1530338 - Posted: 20 Jun 2014, 19:51:34 UTC

His system compressor ran off the same belt a traditional AC compressor used.
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Message 1530349 - Posted: 20 Jun 2014, 20:23:33 UTC - in response to Message 1530338.
Last modified: 20 Jun 2014, 20:23:54 UTC

What was the refrigerant?

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Message 1530350 - Posted: 20 Jun 2014, 20:34:26 UTC

...air
hence "air-cycle".
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Profile James Sotherden
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Message 1530490 - Posted: 21 Jun 2014, 7:14:13 UTC - in response to Message 1530324.
Last modified: 21 Jun 2014, 7:15:03 UTC

Air cycle air conditioners are very common on turbine powered aircraft, where you have a handy source of compressed air at the engine. They are cheap to build and light, but they do burn extra fuel to make the compressed air, and may limit the maximum engine power on hot days. Anyone old enough to remember the Boeing 727 may remember uncomfortable cabins during takeoffs at small airport on hot days. They had to turn off the a/c to get up in the air.

Mr. Edward's system had to get compressed air from somewhere, maybe the total system cost couldn't compete with traditional systems.

Why cant you use a turbo charger to compress the air to cool? As a turbo charger runs off exhaust gasses why not use that to cool instead of supercharging the engine?

Im only saying this as My understanding of WW2 fighters with a turbo was to force more air into the engine for increased performance. Why would it have to go to the engine?
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Message 1530496 - Posted: 21 Jun 2014, 7:27:32 UTC

A normal turbocharger doesn't give you enough pressure to make an air-cycle air-con work properly. (Too many a-c in that sentence...)
I think the Edward's system foundered because he couldn't get to the right ears, and at the time.
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Message 1530521 - Posted: 21 Jun 2014, 7:57:31 UTC

But didnt they have superchargers? Im thinking P-51 and the Supermarine Spitfire here.
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Message 1530576 - Posted: 21 Jun 2014, 14:50:51 UTC

Yes superchargers and turbochargers were very common in WW2 aircraft. As Rob said, there are designed for lower pressures than an air cycle ac needs. Typical turbos put out 25 to 50 psi (pounds per square inch), the air cycle acs I'm familiar with need 100 to 200 psi. Maybe you could get this from a turbocharger, but that doesn't mean it would be an improvement over all the other alternatives.

Two general comments about all these automotive conspiracy theories, having spent a few decades working with big global manufacturers:

I don't see these theories coming from industry insiders. From what I have seen of the management of car companies over the last few decades, these people are totally interested in profits, and could care less about what they sell us to make those profits. They have no "vested interest" in continuing to sell us the same cars. If they think they could make more money selling us cars that run on water (or peanut butter), they would retool all their plants for this as fast as they could borrow the money. And the big banks love to lend money to big companies with a solid plan. So, if we don't see cars running on water, that tells me the car manufacturers think people won't buy them. It isn't because of some secret cabal hiding the patents.

And about patents: You get a patent because your idea is new, not because your idea is good. There are lots and lots of patents for things that actually don't work at all. The car manufacturers will only be interested in patents that can make them money.
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Message 1531913 - Posted: 25 Jun 2014, 17:25:46 UTC
Last modified: 25 Jun 2014, 17:27:59 UTC

Here is a technical paper on the operation of Dr. Thomas Edwards ROVAC air conditioner
http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1037&context=icec

Florida Technological University was the original name of what is now the University of Central Florida.
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Bob DeWoody

My motto: Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow as it may not be required. This no longer applies in light of current events.

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