No, not that kind of magnets... Photo via oskay via Flickr CC
Using magnetism for energy efficient cooling is one option for more eco-friendly refrigeration and air conditioning, but the ideal material to accomplish this hasn't been uncovered yet. However, scientists have gotten one step closer to figuring out how we'll be able to get refrigeration using 20-30% less energy.Science Daily reports on a new study in Applied Materials showing researchers at the Imperial College London have figured out that the heart of the matter is in the pattern of crystals inside different alloys. Knowing this can help them understand which alloy will be best for the job of running a magnetic refrigeration system, rather than the energy-intensive gas-compression fridges and air conditioners.
A magnetic refrigeration system works by applying a magnetic field to a magnetic material - some of the most promising being metallic alloys - causing it to heat up. This excess heat is removed from the system by water, cooling the material back down to its original temperature. When the magnetic field is removed the material cools down even further, and it is this cooling property that researchers hope to harness for a wide variety of cooling applications.
The only problem is this has only shown to be possible in labs. Researchers are still on the prowl for better materials that will bring the technology to homes and businesses. Luckily, this discovery brings them one step closer to greener, energy-sipping fridges.
Via Science Daily
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