In an earlier post, Old invention deserves a new life, I dug up the Crosley icy ball–a way to refrigerate without electricity. Since then, I’ve found some even cooler approaches to refrigeration. They also deserve some life.
Science News reports a Chip-size refrigerator that could fit inside future laptops. It still runs on electricity, but a lot less, and it removes a lot more heat than the current fans system in your laptop. How it works:
Still in the tiny category, Chip-scale Refrigerators sandwich metal, an insulator, and a superconducting metal. Add some juice and the the hottest electrons move from the metal to the superconductor, through the insulator. Which dramatically cools the metal that loses its electrons.
In the everyday order of magnitude, coolers are coming that go beyond conventional compression, used in your kitchen refrigerator or air conditioner, which compress and decompress coolants. Compressors eat up energy and your refrigerator makes heat, which the cat may like in the winter, but makes no sense in a kitchen you’re trying to cool.
Even more intriguing–it may be possible to one day turn in your compressor-refrigerator for a lighter version with no moving parts. Researchers at Penn State University recently announced a compressor-free frig in their Engineering News. It uses ferroelectric polymers that exploits the way some polarpolymers, when placed in an electric field, organize and disorganize.
According to the article:
“The natural state of these materials is disorganized with the various molecules randomly positioned. When electricity is applied, the molecules become highly ordered and the material gives off heat and becomes colder. When the electricity is turned off, the material reverts to its disordered state and absorbs heat.”
Finally, there’s Magnetic Refrigeration. In experiments at CERN1’s large hadron collider, scientists have realized extremely low temperatures–as low as 1.9 K. Too cold for frozen vegetables!
Peter Lloyd writes Right Brain Workouts for IdeaConnection.