If you live anywhere near the tropics, air conditioning isn’t a luxury but a necessity. The problem however is that humid climates can cause conventional air conditioners to draw more power to dehumidify the air than it requires to just cool it, which increases the power needed to run the unit. Back in 1963, there was a proposal to create a cooling system that didn’t foster condensation and couple it with different methods of removing humidity. Researchers in Singapore have now created such a system. It uses a membrane that is permeable to infrared radiation but prevents condensation around the cooling unit.
You can see a video of the apparatus in a pavilion in the Singapore heat in the video below. Chilled water runs through tubes behind a membrane that passes thermal radiation. Since the tubes are not exposed to the ambient atmosphere, condensation is minimal. But heat radiates from the warmer area to the much colder area of the tubes.
Desiccant passively dries the air. Does it work? The paper mentions testing in January which sounds odd to people from chillier latitudes, but Singapore is so near the equator that it isn’t really what others might call winter there even in January. A quick search reveals the average temperature in January is 87F or about 30.5C. People found the area to be subjectively cool and comfortable.
We wonder of course if you could cool electronics with a scheme like this in applications where airflow or vibration from a contact surface could be an issue–for example, under a microscope. You can build a classic air conditioner out of odd parts if you like. Swamp coolers work well, but not with humidity.