Fridges are often inefficient and contribute to carbon emissions. Researchers have identified an eco friendly material for green refrigeration.
The problems of carbon emissions from the materials used in fridges have been solved by a new research paper which identifies a new solid material for green refrigeration.
The gases used for refrigeration
The gases currently used in the majority of fridges are called hydrofluorocarbons and hydrocarbons, which are also known as HFCs and HCs. They are toxic and flammable, and when they leak into the air they contribute to global warming, so a new material for this purpose is desirable.
According to the University of Cambridge, “Conventional cooling technologies rely on the thermal changes that occur when a compressed fluid expands. Most cooling devices work by compressing and expanding fluids such as HFCs and HCs. As the fluid expands, it decreases in temperature, cooling its surroundings.”
“With solids, cooling is achieved by changing the material’s microscopic structure. This change can be achieved by applying a magnetic field, an electric field or through mechanic force. For decades, these caloric effects have fallen behind the thermal changes available in fluids, but the discovery of colossal barocaloric effects in a plastic crystal of neopentylglycol (NPG) and other related organic compounds has levelled the playfield.”
Dr Xavier Moya, from the University of Cambridge, who led the research with Professor Josep Lluís Tamarit, from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, said: “Refrigerators and air conditioners based on HFCs and HCs are also relatively inefficient. That’s important because refrigeration and air conditioning currently devour a fifth of the energy produced worldwide, and demand for cooling is only going up.”
The University of Cambridge adds: “The discovery of colossal barocaloric effects in a plastic crystal should bring barocaloric materials to the forefront of research and development to achieve safe environmentally friendly cooling without compromising performance.”