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A new possible substitute for gases used in refrigerators or air conditioners has been identified

A new possible substitute for gases used in refrigerators or air conditioners has been identified by a group of researchers from the University of Cambridge. Researchers have developed a new device based on metallic materials known as PST. This new device has a strong electro-caloric effect, i.e. the effect that occurs when the temperature changes after the application of an electric field, which can be exploited for refrigerators such as refrigerators or air conditioners.

Energy consumption in connection with air conditioners or refrigerators is one of the biggest problems in terms of global energy consumption. It is assumed that these appliances consume more than 1/5 of the energy produced and consumed worldwide. In addition, these devices produce toxic greenhouse gases for the environment, especially the air, which contribute to the progressive global warming.

Currently, research to improve these refrigerators is mainly focused on the use of solid magnetic materials instead of gases. However, the first prototypes have limited performance and there is agreement that several years must pass before such equipment can actually be placed on the market and put into series production.

This new study has identified a new method to implement the necessary thermal changes that will enable cooling. This method is based on tension, as explained by Xavier Moya, a researcher at the Cambridge Department of Materials Science and one of the authors of the study: “The use of tension instead of pressure to power the cooling is technically simpler and allows the reproduction of existing design principles without the need for magnets.”

“The device consists of PST layers with metal electrodes in the middle. These layers can exist at higher voltages and can produce better cooling. This means that in the future it may be possible to replace the internal devices of current refrigerators or air conditioners with a device that works better and does not require permanent magnets. This is a turning point for those who are trying to improve cooling technology,” says Neil Mathur, author of the study.


Background info and sources:

https://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/electronic-solid-could-reduce-carbon-emissions-in-fridges-and-air-conditioners

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1634-0

Image source:

https://www.cam.ac.uk/sites/www.cam.ac.uk/files/styles/content-885×432/public/news/research/news/crop_146.jpg?itok=VEEzu905

Martin Hill

An accomplished journalist and freelancer, Martin has held a long career in media and has worked for numerous different agencies. He was an editor for the Arizona Business Gazette for over 10 years before joining the Tucson Weekly (tucsonweekly.com) and founding Science of Change, a new publication with the aim of reporting on science news over the internet. Beyond having extensive writing and research experience, Martin is also a science enthusiast with a passion for science and technology. In his younger life, he had studied mechanical engineering before moving on to journalism.
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