Green Gadgets | February 16, 2012 |
Hagent, the Heat-Storing Robot
by Charis Michelsen
February is a cold month for many people – it’s certainly hovering around freezing in the greater Chicago area We actually consider that incredibly mild and even overly warm weather for this time of year, but that’s another story…. And still, just because standing water isn’t freezing into sheets of ice doesn’t mean it’s not cold enough to be uncomfortable indoors without cranking up the heat. Of course, as the temperature goes up, so do the utility bills. One possible solution is a net-zero-energy home; a potentially less expensive solution is Hagent, the heating robot.
Developed by German designers – Andreas Meinhardt and Daniel Abendroth – Hagent is a sort of mobile space heater. Only, instead of plugging into the wall and heating the room indiscriminately, Hagent actually moves to a warm area to collect the heat and then goes to the cold areas to warm them up.
How Does Hagent Work?
Hagent, which looks like a simple black box, has a number of heat sensors. These allow it to identify heat sources (a fireplace, for example), and also cold areas (such as the bedroom on the other side of the house). Hagent absorbs the heat in something called phase-change material, stores it, and then releases it in the cold areas.
Hagent’s first prototype was pretty much a modified Segway control unit and a plywood frame, exhibited at Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris, in October 2011. Sensors weren’t added until the second prototype was built some time later, which allowed Hagent to move on its own and not crash into things (a major flaw in Prototype Number One). The current prototype is the fourth version, which has been tested against various temperature ranges (testing Hagent to detect body heat failed spectacularly as Hagent proceeded to gravitate towards sunny spots, monitors, and other machines, for example).
While there are currently no concrete plans to send Hagent to production, it does seem like a much more efficient way of heating a house or an apartment – I really like the idea of moving around the available heat rather than just continuing to turn up the thermostat until that one cold room seems warm enough.Reprinted with permission from Cleantechnica