The THEAC system uses no mechanical moving parts, no refrigerants, no CO2, no precious metals or materials. Instead it uses Argon gas, which is plentiful and has zero global warming potential, and is totally sustainable, relying solely on the energy of incoming heat to produce cold. The technology is also claimed to make about as much noise as a running shower, and is scalable, way up from the company's 25-kW demo unit, which can produce cooling temperatures as low as -25° C (-13° F).
How on Earth does it work, then? Through the principles of thermoacoustics, it turns out, which we can only explain up to a certain point. Thermoacoustic effects have been observed for centuries, particularly by glass-blowers, who noticed that occasionally when they were blowing a hot bulb at the end of a cold, narrow tube, a loud, monotone sound would be produced. Experiments in the 1850s figured out that the temperature differential was key, and that the volume and intensity of the sound would vary with the length of the tube and the size of the bulb.