A team of researchers has found new material Which acts as an effective coolant for refrigerators and air conditioners, yet is less toxic, more eco-friendly, less flammable and cheaper than current technology.
The results will make it safer, greener, cleaner and cheaper to keep food fresh and rooms cooler.
Currently, most air conditioning systems or refrigerators use gases called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) or hydrocarbons (HCs) as coolants. These gases are not only venomously toxic, but can also start a fire. Additionally, if old refrigerators and AC units are not disposed of properly (to capture gases) then HFCs or HCs that are released into the atmosphere are highly harmful to the ozone layer and a major contributor to global warming. Huh.
“Refrigerators and air conditioners based on HFC and HC are also relatively inefficient,” says Dr. Xavier Moya from the University of Cambridge, who led the study and is an expert in the field of solid coolants. “This is important because refrigeration and air conditioning currently consume a fifth of the energy produced worldwide, and the demand for cooling is only increasing.”
Despite all the shortcomings, the current technology is relatively simple. as a magazine Phys.org explains, “Traditional cooling technologies rely on the thermal changes that occur when a compressible fluid expands. Most cooling devices work by compressing and expanding liquids such as HFCs and HCs. As the fluid expands, the temperature increases. decreases, cooling the atmosphere around it.”
For years, scientists have known about solids that can replace potentially harmful HFCs and HCs, but have so far been unable to make them effective.
success has now been used plastic crystal Of neopentylglycol, these solids have been shown to have excellent cooling properties when kept under pressure. They work well at room temperature, and are widely available in the manufacture of paint, lubricant, polyesterAnd plasticizer, The special thing is that they are also cheap.
Using them as a coolant is relatively simple, as well as more efficient than current technologies. This highlights a point Cambridge University website When it was described that, “as with solids, cooling is achieved by changing the microscopic structure of the material. This change can be applied through a magnetic field, an electric field, or a mechanical force. For decades, these Caloric effects have lagged behind available thermal changes in liquids, but the discovery of giant barocaloric effects in plastic crystals of neopentylglycol (NPG) and other related organic compounds has now leveled the playing field.”
While the new content is called a . referred to as plasticThe term refers only to the ductility of the substance, not its chemical material. Plastic crystals lie at the boundary between solids and liquids.
The molecules of NPG are composed of hydrogen, carbon and oxygen, and are nearly spherical, interacting only weakly with each other. As a result of these loose bonds, molecules are able to move around freely.
Compressing them causes large thermal changes as the molecules are forced to reconfigure themselves. The level of cooling achieved is comparable to that found in modern fridges with HFCs and HCs.
Dr. Moya with his colleagues Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya And this Universitat de BarcelonaNow the details of his discovery have been published in the journal nature communicationwhere he says, “Here we show plastic crystals of neopentylglycol (CH.)3,2C (CH2Oh)2 exhibit extremely large pressure-driven thermal changes near room temperature due to molecular reconfiguration, that these changes outperform those observed in any type of caloric content, and that these changes are commercially exploited in hydrofluorocarbons. comparable with people.
The researchers are now working with Cambridge Enterprise, the commercialization arm of the University of Cambridge, to try to bring the technology to market. While there will be many challenges involved, the long list of advantages over more traditional coolant materials over plastic crystals will give new business a good chance of success. Especially considering that the material is already widely available and inexpensive.
Beyond the benefits, the breakthrough will make the analysis of novel refrigerants ‘cool’, attract investment and study the use of the giant barocaloric effect in refrigeration systems.
As the researchers note, “Our discovery of giant barocaloric effects in plastic crystals should bring barocaloric materials to the forefront of research and development to achieve safe environmentally friendly cooling without compromising performance.”
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