SINGAPORE — A United States start-up backed by Temasek Foundation has unveiled a new bladeless fan to help Singaporeans beat the heat outdoors.

Technology company Phononic said on Friday (Nov 15) that the device is more environmentally friendly than bladed fans and air-conditioners — using up to 50 per cent less energy — and reduces both the temperature and humidity significantly.

Dubbed “Outdoor active cooling in Singapore” (Oacis), the fan was created in partnership with Temasek Foundation which provided US$1 million (S$1.4 million) in funding to develop and trial the device. The foundation is the non-profit arm of sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings.

The North Carolina-based firm aims to mass produce the fan next year, after refining the design, and establishing a base in Singapore.

The firm is trialling eight of the fans in Singapore. Three have been installed at Octopas Spanish Tapas Bar at Clarke Quay, three at the water park at Jurong Lake Gardens and another two are at the nature play area of the gardens.

Speaking to reporters at a media event on Friday, Dr Tony Atti, chief executive officer of Phononic, said: “We are proud to partner Temasek Foundation on this first-of-its-kind cooling project that takes head-on the challenges posed by an ever-warming climate. Singapore has set the scene for the rest of the world, and together we’re delivering sustainable cooling solutions.”

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Noting that 30 per cent of energy consumed in Singapore is used for air-conditioning, Mr Lim Hock Chuan, chief executive officer of Temasek Foundation Ecosperity, said that Temasek had decided to support the project due to its “sustainable way of cooling”. Temasek Foundation Ecosperity is the arm of Temasek Foundation that develops sustainable solutions.

“(This fan) uses less energy and it is very effective for Singapore’s hot weather and high humidity which a lot of the existing solutions have not been able to address,” said Mr Lim.

Dr Atti added that the fan could also give a boost to businesses, such as restaurants with al fresco settings, as more people would be encouraged to sit outside on hot days.

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He declined to disclose the price of the fan.


The fan pulls up air through a pump. Heat from the air is then absorbed by semiconductor panels, developed by the company, within the fan and released upwards into the air, much like how a chimney works.

The cooler air is then released downwards, resulting in a “cool zone” that lowers the temperature within the surrounding area of between 12 sqm to 14 sqm by up to 10°C and reduces the humidity by up to 15 per cent.

Dr Atti said that the fan works in three modes which vary in their levels of coolness and humidity generated – low mode (low cooling and low fan speed), medium mode (cooler air with low fan speed) and high mode (highest level of cool air and high fan speed).


Unlike some other forms of air coolants, Phononic’s fan does not release greenhouse gases or toxins, and uses less energy, he said.

For instance, an air-conditioner artificially creates cold air through a compressor. The compressor works by compressing a refrigerant, which is a substance which absorbs heat from the environment, into fluid or gas in cycles.

When the refrigerant absorbs energy, it goes cold and air is blown across it to push the cold air outwards.

However, a huge amount of electricity is required to drive the motor which compresses the refrigerant.

He said that while a typical standing air conditioner may consume three to five kilowatts (kw) of energy, the Phononic’s fan consumes 0.45kw in its lowest mode to 2.3kw of energy in its highest mode.

In addition, refrigerants are made out of hydrofluorocarbons or hydrocarbons, which leak into the atmosphere and generate carbon dioxide as they breakdown. This contributes to global warming, said Dr Atti.

In place of refrigerants, Phononic’s fan uses carbon dioxide and water to absorb heat.

When compared to a bladed fan, the Phononic’s fan uses up to 50 per cent less energy than the usual industrial bladed fan, which Dr Atti estimates is between 2.3kw and 2.6kw.

“The (Phononics fan) is also more comfortable and can reduce the humidity in the air,” added Dr Atti.


There are plans to expand the locations of the fans, said Dr Atti.

From 2020 onwards, Singaporeans will be able to experience the fans in Sentosa and Gardens by the Bay.

These fans, said Dr Atti, will be ‘smarter’ in that they can automatically adjust their modes based on the temperature and humidity levels of the surroundings. These modes currently have to be adjusted by a user through an application.

The team is also working on reducing the noise generated by the fans, said Dr Atti.

There are also plans to run the fans on solar energy as early as next year, reducing its need for electricity from the grid.

Meanwhile, the company is aiming to set up shop in Singapore. Dr Atti said that the company will set up its headquarters in Singapore and manufacture its fans in Singapore and Malaysia by the end of this year.

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