A cooler world: Bicolana teen invents green airconditioner

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Bicolana teenager Maria Yzabell Angel V. Palma spent two years developing what she hoped would be her contribution to a cooler world: the AirDisc, an airconditioner that doesn't use ozone-depleting coolants.

Palma, 19, is the youngest of 6 daughters of Naga-based food entrepreneur Bernardo Palma. She will take up mechanical engineering at the De La Salle University in Taft this coming school year.

Palma discovered her AirDisc technology by chance, while working on an eco-friendly oven for a research subject when she was a grade 10 student at the Philippine Science High School (PSHS) Bicol campus.  She started working on the AirDisc for a school project when she was in grade 11.

Palma completed the prototype that year, and the end product when she was in grade 12. Palma's AirDisc uses low compression and high-volume air molecules to generate cool air in place hydroflourocarbons (HFCs) that contribute to climate change.

“Widely used refrigerants are considered as super greenhouse gases since one kilogram of it is roughly as much as 20,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide when global warming potential is taken into account,”  she said.

The teenager said airconditioners in the market are based on closed system air conditioning technology that requires a lot of costly power consumption, and also high maintenance expenses. In comparison, the AirDisc has low electricity consumption of 150 watts.

Next step

To protect her invention, Palma, through the help of her father, filed patent applications in the Philippines and in the United States Patent and Trademarks Office (USPTO).

Science Secretary Fortunato dela Peña, who was in Bicol recently, said his department will help with Palma's patent application.

The next step, of course, is the commercial production of the AirDisc. There are 4 to 5 local firms that have expressed  interest in Palma's invention for commercial development but she declined to identify them. The unit will be sold from P25,000 to P40,000, but once there is more demand, the selling price would go down.

“The prototype is now ready for commercial and manufacturing but we’re still open for a joint venture,” Palma said.

Recognition

Palma has reaped awards and recognition at home and abroad for her AirDisc.

The International Federation of Inventors’ Association (IFIA). recognized the AirDisc, which also won gold medals from the International Intellectual Property Invention, Innovation and Technology Exposition Thailand 2018, World Inventors Contest 2017 in South Korea, and the International Invention Innovation Competition 2017 in Canada.

She also received international innovation awards in Malaysia, Poland, China, Thailand, Indonesia, and Romania, and the International Leadership Award from World Invention Intellectual Property Associations (WIIPA and the Best Invention Award from WIIPA.

At home, she received the DOST Youth Excellence in Science Award 2018 and is a 2018 Jesse M. Robredo Youth Awardee. – Rappler.com