Bees and Peltier. Improving an HVAC unit

As you may know, some of the collaborators of this blog have been involved in an amazing biomimicry project. The results (mainly articles) are being reviewed and some of them have just been published. Some days ago, we talked about the first paper related to biomimicry. We analysed the energy behaviour of an office building with ‘tuna configuration’ or the ‘expanded configuration’. Today, we want to show you another biomimicry example. Bees have outstanding strategies to regulate temperature and gasses in a beehive. We have made use of some of them to suggest the improvement of an HVAC unit autonomous and without a central brain.

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Bees and Peltier? Let’s see an unexpected relationship.

One of the most interesting animals that we ‘discovered’ in the RiMA project was bees. The thermal regulation that bees are able to achieve is amazing. Thanks to three different strategies, they can control the temperature, humidity and gasses in the beehive. The first strategy allows them to spread some water droplets and create an airflow to cool down and ventilate the nest. The second one, known as ‘heat shield’, allows bees to catch heat before it reaches the broods. Finally, bees can heat up larvae by contracting their abdomen.

Strategies together

Regarding Peltier, as you may know, we have one article about a Peltier HVAC prototype. We found an amazing relationship between Peltier and bees. One of the most interesting things of bees is how they manage all those strategies ‘without’ talking. Why they behave like that is called ‘stigmergy’. Besides, they need to collaborate to execute those tasks succesfully. They work individually to achieve a global goal.

When thinking about building services, we realized that it’s more common to find buildings with an only central facility for heating, cooling or electricity. Why don’t we design building services like bees? Why don’t we install multiple smaller units instead of a big one? That’s what we tried to analyse in this paper.

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We proposed two strategies to improve the Peltier prototype. First of all, a controlled air cavity that allowed us to store heat in winter and produce an airflow in summer to refrigerate. Secondly, we suggested a new control system without a ‘central brain’ to manage all the installations of building. It relies on the conditions of neighbour rooms to switch on/off Peltier units.

We really encourage you to read the whole article available in DYNA. You can take a look at the English version or the Spanish one.

Do you think biomimicry can be a good inspiration? Is Peltier a good solution for HVAC? Tell us!


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