Magnetic Refrigeration

Comments Off on Magnetic Refrigeration
Magnetic Refrigeration

The modern refrigerator can be found in almost every home in the developed world. But, despite these fluid-compression mechanisms becoming indispensable for keeping food and beverages cooled or frozen, they have several disadvantages:

  • Because of their size, including bulky compressors, coils, and other parts, they take up too much space.
  • They are expensive to purchase, and it can be costly to replace parts that occasionally break.
  • Many of the fluids used as chemical refrigerants, particularly chloro-fluorocarbons, can be harmful to the environment.
  • Refrigerators are not very energy-efficient, so it is expensive to keep them running constantly.

For all of these reasons, the refrigeration market has been ripe for disruption for decades. Now, a new technology called "magnetic cooling" may be on the verge of doing just that.

A particularly promising magnetic cooling approach, developed by a team of Canadian-Bulgarian researchers, relies on solid magnetic substances called magnetocaloric materials to act as the refrigerant in miniaturized magnetic refrigerators. As the team describes in the journal Applied Physics Letters, these materials are the key to the development of a "green" cooling technology.1

As explained by Mohamed Balli, a researcher in the physics department at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec, the magnetocaloric effect is "the thermal response of a magnetic material to the change of an external magnetic field, which manifests as a change in its temperature."

For example, ferromagnetic materials heat up when magnetized, and cool down when the magnetic field is removed.

According to Balli, "The presence of a magnetic field makes ferromagnetic materials become more ordered which causes an increase in the material's temperature. Inversely, the absence of a magnetic field means that the atomic lattice is less ordered and results in a temperature decrease. Magnetic refrigeration essentially works by recapturing produced cooling energy via a heat transfer fluid, such as water."

The researchers soon discovered they could create a giant magnetocaloric effect by simply rotating a crystal of Holmium-Manganese-Oxide (HoMn2O5) within a constant magnetic field, without needing to move it in and out of the magnetic field zone.

become a paid subscriber for full access.
Already a Trends Magazine subscriber? Login for full access now.

Subscribe for as low as $195/year

  • Get 12 months of Trends that will impact your business and your life
  • Gain access to the entire Trends Research Library
  • Optional Trends monthly CDs in addition to your On-Line access
  • Receive our exclusive "Trends Investor Forecast 2015" as a free online gift
  • If you do not like what you see, you can cancel anytime and receive a 100% full refund