Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed ionocaloric refrigeration, a new refrigeration cycle that they hope will help phase out global warming refrigerants.
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Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard experimented with new refrigerators in 1926, in which a family died of gas poisoning that leaked into the house due to a broken seal in the refrigerator.
As people began buying modern mechanical refrigerators that utilized harmful substances as refrigerants, such leaks have become more frequent.
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Refrigerator by Einstein-Szilard
Absorption refrigerators are designed by Einstein and Szilard to be a heat source rather than a mechanical compressor.Absorption is the chemical or physical process of absorption of one substance by another. and the release of refrigerants.
Szilard found a way to enhance the previous technique, relying on his knowledge in thermodynamics. Ammonia, butane, and water were all powered by three interconnected circuits, without the need for electricity to operate the device and moving parts. On the other side was placed a flask with butane, which heated the chamber in the process.
The patent application by Einstein and Szilard was drawn.
The refrigerator did not go into mass production until the same year the use of non-toxic refrigerant freon was invented.
Although freon is not harmful to the environment at home, its emissions, like other hydrofluorocarbons, have an influence on global warming. This is why increasing interest in so-called "caloric" refrigeration solutions has arisen.
Cooling is considered to be "caloric."
Solid materials manipulate magnetic, electrical, or mechanical forces and absorb or release heat in caloric refrigeration.
The magnetocaloric effect is used to cool magnetic fields, absorbing the heat when the magnetic field disappears.
Other caloric cooling techniques include electrocaloric and thermoacoustic cooling. In 2004, a Ben and Jerry ice cream shop in New York introduced a prototype "thermoacoustic refrigerator" that relies on sound waves rather than steam.
Cycle of the Ionocaloric Cycle of the ionocaloric
Electricly charged atoms or molecules (ions) alter the melting point of a solid material (much like adding salt to roads in winter alters the way ice forms). Removing the ions allows the material to re-solidify and absorb this heat.
The objective of the investigation is to determine how the refrigerant's global warming potential, system energy efficiency, and equipment costs are weighed. The ionocaloric method was assumed to equal or even exceed the efficiency of modern gas refrigerators, according to this animation.
The researchers then performed a temperature change of 25°C in less than one volt, which significantly enhances the ionocaloric technique, among other caloric approaches.
The authors want to make a prototype after acquiring a temporary patent. The method may be used in the future for heating water, industrial heating, or cooling.