The evaporative cooling process has been famously compared to man’s earliest exploits in temperature management. Egyptians and Romans and every other overheated ancient civilization on the globe had access to some variation on this theme because they knew that water was a cooling influence. They saw water evaporate and felt a corresponding drop in temperature, but they didn’t have the means to reason why this event occurred. We do have the resources, so how does it really work? In scientific terms, we mean, how does water cool by evaporating?

A Beginner’s Guide to Thermodynamics

This is a term that most of us steer clear of, yet we need to orbit back toward this science if we’re to understand what’s going on with state changes. Basically, when water changes from a liquid to a gaseous form, it absorbs energy until the state conversion reaches equilibrium. That’s a science-heavy way of saying the environment cools down when the molecules of a liquid draw heat as they’re converted into a watery mist. The effect is often invisible, so it goes unnoticed when an athlete sweats or a lost explorer uses his finger to test wind direction, but, nevertheless, that’s a basic premise that rules thermodynamics. It corals the laws of energy conservation and fluid state conversion under one umbrella principle, the concepts we use to describe the evaporative cooling process.

Will The Real Air Conditioner Please Stand Up?

What’s the true air temperature management agent? Is it a chemical soup that forces heat exchanger principles to cooperate? We think that’s a case of false representation, so the chemical process should take a back seat. The real air conditioning tool is an appliance that uses the above laws of thermodynamics to cool air. The medium is water, as ever, and it’s interposed between a hot air stream and a distribution system. This fan mechanism encourages the hot air to exchange energy with the liquid-saturated pads, at which point the air cools as energy is conserved by those same scientific principles.

The evaporative cooling process works on a primordial scale, but never mistake that base processing disposition for some primitive series of undeveloped steps. Instead, the laws of thermodynamics represent a fundamental mechanism, a way of optimizing energy state transference so that heat is eliminated but energy is conserved. Finally, the latest evaporative appliances are built on the same principles as Egyptian cotton towels and porous Roman pots, but they represent a culmination of the latest bleeding-edge engineering standards.