How Researchers Used 3,000-Year Old Technology To Create Energy-Free, Room-Cooling Bricks


The heating and cooling industry seems to be making new technological advances faster than anyone can keep track of — but the newest product on the market, called “Cool Bricks,” already makes energy-efficient air conditioners and solar power heating units look ancient.

Cool Bricks, produced by the company Emerging Objects, may be just as effective as conventional air conditioners when it comes to cooling down a room.

These bricks, which are made by a 3-D printer, act like sponges and absorb excess moisture in the air through their porous surfaces. As hot, dry air passes through the lattice structure of the brick, the drastic temperature change causes excess moisture in the brick to evaporate into the passing air — allowing the brick to cool a room without filling it with dry air, like normal air conditioners will do.

According to the researchers at Emerging Objects who developed Cool Bricks, the “new” technology is actually a very old concept dating back about 3,000 years (although the ancient civilizations that used this technology obviously didn’t have 3-D printers to make porous bricks).

In environments where the humidity is abnormally high, these bricks likely won’t make much of a difference. Without hot, dry air passing through the brick, excess liquid water won’t go through the same chemical reaction of turning into water vapor.

But in a dry, desert-like environment, where the nights go below freezing temperatures and the days easily get up to three-digit temps, Cool Bricks could make a huge impact. These bricks don’t require any energy, and there seems to be very little maintenance required — i.e., no furnace inspections, air duct cleaning, or air filters that need to be replaced every two months.

According to, Cool Bricks are currently on display at the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design in an exhibit titled “Data Clay: Digital Digital Strategies for Parsing the Earth” until April 19th, 2015.

But even though Cool Bricks are part of an art exhibit now, it might not be long before you start seeing these bricks become a standard part of residential and commercial cooling systems across the country.

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