Cool Move

Bill Gates, billionaire and cofounder of Microsoft, has thrown some weight behind an air conditioning startup hoping to be much more environmentally friendly than the competition.

CNBC reported this week that Gates' cleantech investment fund Breakthrough Energy Ventures is leading Blue Frontier's current $20 million investment round.

It's a fitting move for Gates, who hopes to slow climate change partly through a focus on reducing the "green premium," which Breakthrough defines as "the additional cost of choosing a clean technology over one that emits a greater amount of greenhouse gases."

Old Dogs, New Tricks

Sinking money into Blue Frontier could help reduce both its costs and its prices.

In March, the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center released a study that found that 531 million tons of carbon dioxide are released each year by AC units cooling the air, and that 599 million tons are emitted while removing humidity from it.

Blue Frontier's units combine dew-point-style cooling with liquid desiccant dehumidification, which they claim creates a 60 percent reduction in annual energy use and an 85 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Those are good stats considering power grids around the US are already struggling to keep up with energy demand as consumers battle soaring temperatures.

“Summer peak demand is not just a problem because it causes brown-outs," CEO Daniel Betts told CNBC. "It increases the cost of electricity, and produces more greenhouse gas emissions."

Let's hope Gates' investment pays off — and that Blue Frontier delivers on their eco-friendly promise when their units hit the market, which CNBC says should be in 2026 or 2027.

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