This 19-year old Bicolana invented a ‘green’ airconditioner

Adults have a particular perception on what teens are today. A huge part of that perspective goes hand in hand with the American singer Khalid’s words, “We’re just young, dumb, and broke.”

While we’d like to admit that Young, Dumb, and Broke is indeed an anthem, most kids nowadays are the movers and shakers in this world. Like Maria Yzabell Angel Palma, a 19-year-old Bicolana who started building an eco-friendly airconditioner when she was in 10th grade. She completed the prototype in her senior year and called her sustainable invention the AirDisc.

While some of us are busy mindlessly scrolling through our Twitter feed, Angel has been winning awards for her energy-efficient airconditioner. This year, she received the Jesse M. Robredo Youth Award and the DOST Youth Excellence in Science Award. The recognition for the AirDisc has even reached international shores as she has also won several awards in Canada, China, and Romania.

Who would have thought that a 19-year-old could make a way to lessen the world’s carbon footprint? Can you believe? Plus, the AirDisc is about to make its way to commercial production as it will be sold for around P25,000 to P40,000.

With the AirDisc having the potential to change the world, Young STAR talks to Angel on how she came up with the AirDisc, on being a young inventor, and on the future of STEM in the country.


Young STAR: What made you interested in pursuing STEM?

Ever since I was a child, I have always been interested in anything that relates to science and technology. The daily TV show, Little Einstein, made a huge impact on me. It was because of that specific show that I was opened to the wonders of science. Little Einstein honed my curiosity to explore and try to discover the still unknown in science.

How did you come up with the idea for the AirDisc?

Efficient and affordable air conditioning units are vital for both developed and developing countries. These units can reduce the detrimental environmental and health effects of chemical refrigerants. The widely used refrigerants are considered as super greenhouse gases. One kilogram of it is roughly equal to 20,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide, with respect to global warming potential. As signed by countries of the United Nations, harmful refrigerants are now mandated to be phased out by the Kigali amended to the Montreal Protocol.  

Existing air conditioning units are based on a closed system air conditioning technology that use piston or rotary compressors with high pressure and low volume which requires a lot of energy. This redounds to expensive operational and even maintenance costs to users. It is also prohibitive to those wishing to avail of air conditioning.

 

How does the AirDisc work?

AirDisc Air Conditioners avail of a technology that is based on a scientific fact that when air molecules are compressed, they generate heat. AirDisc offers a disc-shaped centrifugal compressor that use air molecules with their attendant moistures as a refrigerant.

Using open system air conditioning, air molecules taken from a given room after direct heat removal are then fully discharged back into the room. As such, it uses a low power rating electric motor that allows users the benefit of low energy consumption.

With air as the cooling medium, there is zero global warming potential and no environmental or health threats. Residential, commercial, and industrial establishments as well as the air conditioning industry will benefit hugely from the aforementioned features.

I usually look at things and ask ‘Why?’ When I find the need to change these things, I dream of things that never were and ask ‘Why not?’

How does it feel being able to invent something eco-friendly and could possibly be a life-changing appliance at the age of 19?

I feel blessed for having discovered the AirDisc. From an old saying that has always been instilled in me, I usually look at things and ask ‘Why?’ When I find the need to change these things, I dream of things that never were and ask ‘Why not?’


As a woman in STEM, do you have any current or past struggles?

It is a matter of more people, especially women, appreciating the benefits that STEM gives us. I hope to be one of the leaders in our world to appreciate and promote the power and potential of women in this field.


What are your hopes for the future of STEM in the country?

I am grateful to DOST (Department of Science and Technology) for having a specialized school, the Philippine Science High School System (PSHS), that includes STEM in its curriculum, and also to DepEd (Department of Education) for adapting STEM. I hope that my generation, and the future generations will be encouraged so much to bring about the needed right change in our world through STEM.

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