What if I told you it was possible to keep your office’s conference room at a stable, comfortable temperature without using any energy?
According to two Frenchmen, engineer Raphaël Ménard and designer Jean-Sébastien Lagrange, it’s entirely feasible – and all you need is one of their so-called Zero Energy tables.
Indeed, this amazing table, also known as a ZEF Climatic Table, acts as a sort of “thermal sponge.” By absorbing warm air to cool down a room and then releasing the stored air to warm it back up, the table continuously regulates a room’s temperature.
To perform this incredible feat, Ménard and Lagrange filled anodized aluminum folds with a wax-like phase-changing material and topped it all off with a sleek oak tabletop.
Basically, as the room temperature warms to around 71 degrees, the wax begins to absorb heat and slowly melt. Then, as the room cools, the wax hardens, releasing the warm air. The aluminum folds support the wax and help facilitate the heat exchange.
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The table works best in rooms and climates that experience big temperature swings throughout the day. In the right office, the designers say the table can help offset 60% of the heating energy that would normally be used, as well as 30% of the energy used for air conditioning.
Ultimately, Ménard and Lagrange were looking for a way to improve energy efficiency at a smaller level than the typical structural scale.
“The idea of our collaboration started with the purpose of addressing energy efficiency issues of a building at furniture scale, rather than traditional refurbishment solutions – it could be easier, cheaper, and more scalable,” Ménard and Lagrange say.
According to WIRED, the pair’s next project could include home goods, as well as lighting designs. If their first creation is a sign of things to come, then the future of energy efficiency looks bright, indeed.