Check out our Prezi here
We used the Artik 10 Kit for this project.
A lot of us have looked at various ways to save and conserve water. We, Team WPI decided to look at an option we believe is not fully utilized and is a source of water on a daily basis. The source, Air Conditioning. Each air conditioner has a runaway water pipe attached to it. This pipe essentially drains water formed by the condensation process inside the AC. Team WPI has come up with a way to harvest this water.
We decided to focus on how each individual can contribute to this mission. This is because a 1.5 AC generates 0.3 gallons per hour while a 5 Ton Central AC generates 1 gallon per hour. Considering an average run time of 9 hours per day, a window AC generates 2.7 gallons each day while a Central AC generates 9 gallons a day!
This trend has resulted in almost 87% homes with some sort of Air Conditioning equipment. AC has virtually become a standard equipment of every household. Among 50 states in USA, California alone accounts for a massive 7.3% of air conditioning. A figure which is 5 times for than most states. This is because of the climate in California. California belongs to the region with hot/mixed dry climate type. With an average summer temperature of 90F and a year round temperature of around 80F, the high use of AC in California is justified.
Let’s take a look at how this is a viable solution across the world. In 2013, a rough estimate of AC sales are approx. 900 million. A high volume of which are central ACs and rooftops AC. Together if we can implement E-Conditioner, we can save a lot of water and this in-turn will result more water available from traditional sources like dams and supply.
What it does
We built and smart AC system that also saves water, as you can see in the video we can save up to 9 gallons of water a day. Even more if we optimize our condensation process. We use ARTIK10 to connect an standard air conditioning system with our own secure servers (try it on econtioner.me) via an MQTT protocol, we process information as temperature, humidity and most important the amount of water we save and its purity. We also add extra features to your standar AC system, you can program patters into the Econditioner, so that you also save energy. It learns from your ussage and can send you alerts if you are out of your house and left it on. A global solution
How we built it
We use ARTIK10 as the main processor in our Artik System, we integrated it to the air conditioning control board (got as much info as we could, but this is an ongoing process) to capture some data like temperature, we also incorporated sensors of our own. We then push this data to our server, that has a webpage on http://econditioner.me/ , using the MQTT protocol that is pretty common for IoT applications we get and receive data from our secure server. We can get useful information as temperature, humidity, water saved and the purity of the water and can send from our server to our Econditioner information about turn on and off signals and many features we are currently implementing (You AC unit would be able to turn itself on 30 minutes before you arrive home to greet you with a nice weather).
Challenges we ran into
There were many challenges we ran into, finding an air conditioning system that meets the needs for this project was one of them, we looked around standard AC units but some of them didn't fit our needs, we kind of used and old one at the end, but are looking to implement the Econditioner with a custom one, so that we can have an smart AC from start. It was also hard to use our own servers, planning databases, mqtt brokers and others was a challenge that we overcame at last, and of course keep improving the platform so that we can make Econditioner the new smart AC in your house. At last the final challenge was to save as much water as possible. We keep on working on improving the condensation progress of Econditioner so that we can save more water, trying to optimize this task to a limit is hard, but we are up for the challenge.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
- We made one of the very first smart AC units. A user can manipulate and get feedback from his/her AC system from a computer, a tablet of a phone, you can turn it on and off wherever you are and also help solve the water crisis.
- We build a prototype platform for it, and a prototype product.
- The amount of water we can save is considerable looking at our numbers.
What we learned
From Cad Design, rendering, mqtt, to the more chemical part of this process, things like how water purification works, water condensation, optimized processes to obtain water from humidity. We also learn A LOT about California's use in air conditioning, we went to tons of data to make sure this project is feasible.
What's next for ECONDITIONER
- There are many more things to do, we want to optimize the water saving process to a maximum, having the best performance possible with minimal energy consumption.
- We would like to collect water from the fog too. Fog in an important resource of water that is found on the air, using it with Econditioner would be a feature that would make it even more attractive to the public.
- Optimize the platform and in the future launch a mobile app (It is currently a web app). Also add more features as intelligent control (the one we are currently working on)
- The sky is the limit, we look forward to keep on working hard to improve Econditioner.