Electricity-free refrigerators

Via the blog Inhabitat (and Reuben Miller and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs):

Scientists have been able to drop the temperature of a room from 20° C to 11° C by taking the heat energy from opposing magnetic fields and thermodynamically reversing it to a cooler temperature. DTU researchers will use this technology to create a prototype refrigerator that cools itself using only magnets. According to research from Risø National Laboratory, magnetic refrigerators would be silent and their cooling cycles could be up to 60% more efficient than traditional refrigerators.

The science of it:

The magnetocaloric material is magnetized by a magnet and the temperature increases. The material cools by giving off heat to the surroundings through a heat exchanger. The magnetic field is removed and the temperature of the material drops further.
Finally, the material takes up heat from the cold side heat exchanger (”the inside of the refrigerator”) thus cooling it. Then the cycle starts over again.

Inhabitat pic

Such a magnetic refrigerator has a number of advantages compared to conventional refrigerators, e.g. environmentally hazardous refrigeration gasses such as HFC (hydroflourocarbons) or ammonia are avoided, and higher efficiencies are possible.

I get the impression, from reading it, that the emission of heat is less, but not removed. It is not, for a start, a cooling engine, as to which we are used. It still, though, is transferring heat out, just not generating it as well. A very elegant solution to the problem of cooling, though – allowing for, as usual, the risk that (assuming this replaced out window-box a/c units) everyone would get these and use them constantly. At least it doesn’t look like they can be turned up.

In a perfect world, of course, we’d have all of these plugged directly into hot ‘fridges, heating our food, washing our clothes, heating the water for our showers.

Bloomingdales might have to settle for being only as cool indoors as everyone else (their store is kept psycho-crazy-freezing in the Summer. Lunatics).

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2 comments so far

  1. Occamndak on

    Solid site. Will visit again..

  2. Commercial Refrigerators on

    This article here really help us navigate through the noise by providing with thoroughly researched information to help us avoid hasty decision making.


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