CaloriCool Leads the Way in Replacing Conventional Refrigerators

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory recently announced that it was working on a design for a new generation refrigerator.

The conventional refrigeration process has gone basically unrevised for almost a century; that means it takes a whole lot of energy and creates a whole lot of heat to keep  things cool.

Nowadays, there’s a call for energy efficient appliances that’s more urgent than ever before; climate change is no longer a subject of debate, nor is our need to drastically revise our lifestyles in order to meet the environmental needs of our warming planet.

PrintAccordingly, a research group called CaloriCool will be investigating caloric cooling technology as a way to improve on the conventional refrigeration process.

“There is a technical revolution right now as breakthroughs ind at a science and materials science combine to provide breakthroughs in applied research,” explained Director the Advanced Manufacturing Office for EERE Mark Johnson. “As Ames is a globally recognized leader in the basic discoveries for caloric materials, which if developed could be an important technology for our energy future, we are pleased to see them engaging with industry to accelerate these discoveries towards potential applications.”

According to some studies, 20-30 percent of the energy in the United States is used for cooling alone.

In general, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory in Iowa will become the home of a wide research consortium for the discovery and development of more environmentally friendly and energy-effieicient refrigeration technologies.

CaloriCool’s research will be conducted in collaboration with the private appliance sector and universities. The EMN will facilitate industry access to whatever unique and technical resources become available as a result of the consortium’s findings and will enable manufacturers to bring cutting edge materials to market as quickly as possible.

caloric coolingThe CaloriCool method involves creating compounds that generate cooling when cyclically acted upon by magnetic, electric, or mechanical forces. These forces are called magnetocaloric, electrocaloric, and elastocaloric matierlas. These materials can be more effective and cheaper to use than those known today, which would enable huge energy savings in the form of resources and money for owners and the environment.

“Following our discovery of the giant magnetocaloric effect, it took everyone almost 20 years to realize that what really holds the technology back from commercialization is the lack of a viable material with a strong enough caloric cooling effect,” Explained Ames Lab scientist Vitalij Pecharsky. “Once we develop the materials that are suitable and cost-effective, the technology can make the leap forward on its own.”

“If you consider all the ways in which humans are using cooling technology globally, the societal impact and energy savings are enormous,” comments Duane Johnson, chief research officer for Ames Laboratory. “In the U.S. it represents a 20 to 30 percent drop in energy needs for cooling.”

Cooling seems to be just another example of a need done by antiquated methods that can and will be done in a better way, if we can only attribute enough value to doing so as a society. I find the direction of this movement relieving, and hope that there will continue to be a way to outsmart environmentally unfriendly practices.

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