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    Aug 26, 2016

    Not wild about heat? Zoo has a smart cooler on trial

    VISITORS to the Singapore Zoo could soon be able to stave off the heat in some areas of the park, thanks to a new outdoor cooling system that is touted to blow air as cool as 24 deg C.

    The Airbitat Smart Cooler, developed by Innosparks, an ST Engineering subsidiary, was unveiled at the zoo yesterday, at a joint media briefing with Mandai Park Development.

    Each unit, about the size of a refrigerator, can cool an area of about 600 sq m, and has a reach of 5m to 10m.

    The cooler is eco-friendly, using 80 per cent less energy than an average air-conditioning unit, and does not produce heat.

    Four units have been placed at the zoo's ticketing area since Tuesday for a six-month trial.

    If successful, 80 to 100 units will be rolled out in the near future at "cool zones" within four of Mandai Park Holdings' wildlife parks: the Singapore Zoo, River Safari, Night Safari and Jurong Bird Park.

    The cool zones include areas such as ticketing counters and restaurants, said Mandai Park Holdings' group chief executive officer Mike Barclay.

    "Singapore's outdoor heat and humidity can discourage our guests from extending their stay. We would like to address this heat issue in a sustainable, energy-efficient manner," he added.

    While a timeline for the rollout and cost has not been determined, Gareth Tang, the project's engineering lead and general manager for Innosparks, said cost-effectiveness is key.

    An Airbitat unit costs $2.50 a day to run while a similar capacity air-conditioning unit costs about $12.50, he noted.

    The machine is built around a "cold water core", where water is circulated and chilled through an evaporation process. It also has an intelligent system that uses sensors to monitor the environmental temperature and humidity, and determine its output.

    After 18 months of development, the units are expected to go into production next year, said Mr Tang. Other suitable locations include semi-open industrial spaces that are not suitable for air-conditioning, such as aircraft hangars.

    "We want to encourage the use of sustainable cooling, and pumping less heat into the environment," he said.