A new technology promises to be the future of refrigeration

A new technology promises to be the future of refrigeration
Need for renewal: Refrigeration sector consumes 20% of the total electricity used worldwide.
Daniel April

Daniel April 6 minutes

The search for more efficient and sustainable methods of cooling has prompted scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to explore innovative materials. Based on the advances made so far, it could revolutionize the way we cool our homes, cars and electronic devices.

The lab — which specializes in science and technology and is managed by the U.S. Department of Energy — is exploring one of the most promising technologies. It is solid state cooling, which offers several advantages over traditional systems.

What is solid state refrigeration?

Solid-state cooling relies on special materials that absorb and release heat when exposed to a magnetic field, thereby eliminating the need for traditional refrigerants and moving parts. This approach is not only very efficient, it is very environmentally friendly and as if that were not enough, these systems are quiet, very compact and capable of controlling the temperature with high precision.

The ORNL team began working on a magnetic shape memory compound composed of nickel, cobalt, manganese and indium.

This material has the ability to change its shape and return to its original state when heated or exposed to a magnetic field, a phenomenon known as the “magnetic effect”.. During this phase change, matter absorbs heat from its surroundings and then releases it, thereby cooling the environment.

Solid State Refrigeration Capacity and Potential

The key to this compound’s performance lies in its atomic structure, which is close to a disordered state known as ferroic glass states. These conditions enhance the material’s ability to store and release heat.

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This new mechanism for solid-state refrigeration has the potential to overcome the limitations of traditional vapor compression refrigeration technology.

Using advanced instruments, the researchers discovered synchronized patterns of vibrations (phonons) and magnetic waves (magons) within matter called localized hybrid magnon-phonon modes. These methods significantly affect the thermal properties of the material.

The discovery is key to developing more efficient materials for solid-state cooling, which will eventually replace traditional refrigerants and mechanical components.

When a magnetic field is applied, these hybrid modes change the material’s vibrations, changing its stability and behavior. This change increases the material’s ability to store and release heat, tripling the cooling power of the magnetic shape memory composite.

Environmental benefits

Traditional cooling systems rely on environmentally harmful refrigerants and complex mechanical systems that are noisy and prone to failure. In contrast, solid-state refrigeration offers a cleaner, quieter and more efficient alternative.

This advancement promises to improve energy efficiency, but also reduce the environmental impact associated with conventional cooling systems.

ORNL’s research represents a significant step toward more sustainable living, providing a glimpse into the future of refrigeration. The ability of these innovative materials to improve efficiency and reduce environmental impact makes them an attractive option for a variety of applications, from domestic to industrial refrigeration.

This is how you can cool your computer!

A notable example of how this technology can be used in the real world is an innovative cooling system called AirJet by American company Fror Systems. It was presented at the latest edition of the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and uses a principle similar to solid-state cooling to cool electronic devices without the need for fans.

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the heat
An American company developed microprocessor-based products for cooling using solid-state systems.

The aforementioned device uses small membranes that create an air current that vibrates at an ultrasonic frequency, which increases the transfer of heat energy. This technology allows for more efficient and quieter cooling of chips in laptops, smartphones, tablets and SSDs than conventional fans.

The future is closer than we think

Solid state cooling represents a revolutionary advance in cooling technology. Implementation of this type of technology in everyday life situations may be realized very soon.

Materials such as magnetic shape memory alloys can create highly efficient, quiet and environmentally friendly cooling systems. Furthermore, applications such as those mentioned for cooling computer chips demonstrate the potential of this technology to transform the cooling of all types of electronic devices and provide compact and low energy consumption solutions.


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