Some metals do a remarkable thing when they’re placed within a magnetic field: They heat up. Remove the magnetic field, and they grow cold.
It’s not difficult to see how this heating and cooling, known as the magnetocaloric effect, might be put to good use. Refrigerators and air conditioners could not only become more energy efficient but also be freed from century-old technology that relies on environmentally harmful refrigerants.
Researchers with Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Building Equipment Research Group are working with General Electric Appliances to produce a refrigerator based on the magnetocaloric effect. The ORNL team is also developing an air conditioner based on the same principle.
Their efforts so far suggest such products will be not only greener but also 25 percent more energy efficient than conventional appliances.
Read the full story from the U.S. Department of Energy here.