Sanza Kazadi has a broad vision for his breakthrough technology that uses environmental heat to address some of the planet’s most pressing problems.
Building on years of research, Kazadi, a member of Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI) Cohort 5, is developing technology that uses water and salt to capture heat in the air.
By harnessing this universal energy source, the technology has applications for bringing cooling solutions to populations unprepared for the record heat levels driven by global warming.
“We have been sitting on this energy reservoir since the dawn of time and haven’t figured out how to use it,” said Kazadi, who holds a bachelor’s degree in physics and a Ph.D. in Computation and Neural Systems from the California Institute of Technology.
“Energy is continually flowing through the biosphere, coming from the sun during the day and eventually flowing out of the Earth’s atmosphere during the night. That energy flux is usable as an energy source.”
By plugging into the natural hydrologic cycle, which itself is powered by the daily energy flux from the sun, this grid-independent technology can pull carbon-free energy from the environment anytime, anywhere. The technology reduces and, in some instances, eliminates the need for a separate infrastructure, lowering the cost and carbon footprint of energy-intensive production processes.
“The current infrastructure is not reliable or resilient enough,” Kazadi said. “Our goal is to improve resilience in energy systems by enabling the use of environmental heat as the primary energy source.”
Kazadi, who founded Kazadi Enterprises in 2020, joined CRI Cohort 5 at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory in June 2021. CRI is Argonne’s two-year entrepreneurship program that embeds innovators in the Lab to help them develop their early-stage technologies.
While embedded, Kazadi is working in Argonne’s Energy Systems and Infrastructure Analysis Division for acoustics research, Argonne’s Acoustics Laboratory, and the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility.
HOW IT WORKS
The idea for Kazadi’s innovation came while he was researching swarm engineering at the Jisan Research Institute, a unique research laboratory he founded in 1995. Kazadi, who served as President and Chief Scientist at the Institute for 20 years, began basic research for the thermal energy technology in 2007.
After years of research, Kazadi began developing his innovation into a versatile technology platform, the Entrochemical Systems Platform comprised of five components: an entrochemical amplifier device that absorbs water vapor at one temperature and produces water vapor at a second, elevated temperature; an entrochemical condenser; a low-pressure electric
generator; a low-energy degasser; and a regenerator possibly incorporating a solar chimney.
The technology exploits two positive entropy transfers: the first uses environmental heat to regenerate the system while the second does the usable work. The first process effectively transforms energy from the environment into energetic potential, or the ability to obtain energy from an appropriate environment. The second process uses this energetic potential to acquire and use environmental thermal energy.
Like absorption refrigeration, the core of the technology involves the movement of water vapor and evaporation. While absorption refrigeration is energy intensive, Kazadi’s technology uses environmental heat and is not limited by grid power or fuel. Water is the only input and water vapor is its only emission.
Kazadi hopes to bring basic cooling to areas suffering extreme heat, but that have low rates of refrigeration and air conditioning, like much of the developing world or even developed markets such as France or England.
He plans to enter cooling markets with products such as refrigeration systems that have the potential to reduce the electrical cost of refrigeration by as much as 90%.
During his two years in CRI, Kazadi is working with Argonne researchers including Ralph T. Muehleisen, Chief Building Scientist and Group Manager for Buildings & Industrial Technologies; Research Scientist Nwike Iloeje; Senior Research Scientist Roberto Torelli; and other technical staff throughout the Lab.
Initially, Kazadi worked on the platform’s distillation system at Argonne. His company has since pivoted to cooling and he is now developing cooling technology that will work both on and off the grid for extended periods. He is working with the Argonne team to run simulations using Aurora, Argonne’s world-class supercomputer, which will be the fastest in the world when it comes online. He will use new and accurate computational fluid dynamics models to develop new designs for the solar chimney and the generator.
“When you run your own company, you have limited funding and access to the equipment essential to your progress,” Kazadi said. “Argonne offers world-class facilities and technology. It’s also hard to find great people to collaborate with. I have wanted to be a part of a research community like this Argonne team for many years.”
Kazadi, who leveraged his own savings to launch his research, secured $161,000 in funding from the Humanitarian Grand Challenge in 2020. He also received the $25,000 Nicor Gas Multicultural Innovator Award in 2022.
Kazadi has existing patents or patents pending for each component of the technology platform and is currently developing patents around the applications of various groups of components.