Scientists have just invented a whole new way to cool things down

(ORDO NEWS) — Meet ionocaloric refrigeration: a new way to reduce mercury that has the potential to replace existing methods with something safer and more planet friendly.

Conventional refrigeration systems remove heat from space through a gas that cools as it expands over some distance.

As efficient as this process is, some of the selective gases we use are particularly harmful to the environment.

However, there are several ways to make a substance absorb and release thermal energy.

The new method, developed by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC Berkeley in the US, takes advantage of the way energy is stored or released when a material changes phase, such as solidification. for example, ice turns into liquid water.

Raise the temperature of a block of ice and it will melt. What we may not notice so easily is that a melt absorbs heat from its surroundings, effectively cooling it.

One way to make ice melt without heating it is to add a few charged particles or ions. Salting roads to prevent ice formation is a common example of this in action. The ionocaloric cycle also uses salt to change the phase of the liquid and cool the environment.

“The refrigerant landscape is an unsolved problem,” says mechanical engineer Drew Lilly of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.

“No one has been able to successfully develop an alternative solution that refrigerates food, works efficiently, is safe and does not harm the environment.”

“We believe that the ionocaloric cycle can solve all these problems. with proper implementation.

The researchers modeled the ionocaloric cycle theory to show how it could potentially compete with or even improve the efficiency of refrigerants in use today.

The current passing through the system would move the ions in it, shifting the melting point of the material depending on the temperature.

Scientists have just invented a whole new way to cool things down 2
The ionocaloric cycle in action

The team also did experiments using salt made from iodine and sodium to melt ethylene carbonate.

This common organic solvent is also used in lithium-ion batteries and is produced using carbon dioxide as a starting material.

This can cause the GWP [Global Warming Potential] of the system to be zero instead of negative.

A temperature shift of 25 degrees Celsius (45 degrees Fahrenheit) has been measured by applying less than one volt of charge in an experiment, a result that is superior to what has been achieved so far with other thermal technologies.

“We’re trying to balance three things: the GWP of the refrigerant, the energy efficiency and the cost of the equipment itself,” says mechanical engineer Ravi Prasher of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

“From the first time, our data looks promising on all three dimensions.”

Vapor compression systems currently used in refrigeration processes are based on high GWP gases such as various hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

The signatories to the Kigali Amendment have committed themselves to reducing their production and consumption of HFCs by at least 80 percent over the next 25 years, and ionocaloric refrigeration can play a major role in this.

Now, researchers need to move the technology out of the lab into practical systems that can be used commercially and scaled without any problems. Eventually, these systems could be used for both heating and cooling.

“We have a completely new thermodynamic cycle and structure that combines elements from different areas, and we have shown that this can work,” Prasher says.

“Now it’s time for experiments to test different combinations of materials and technologies to solve engineering problems.”

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