Magnetic refrigeration: the future of refrigeration


A new type of refrigerators could, in the coming years, replace the classic ones. Those new fridges that are far cheaper, quieter and more efficient work using a process called magnetic refrigeration. This technology has been known and experimented with for a long time but it can now be applied to domestic appliances and could even be used in various applications.

How does a classic refrigerator work?

A classic refrigerator could be compared to an isolated cupboard from which the heat is expulsed. The hot air goes through small pipes located at the back of the fridge that get hot when the fridge is working. The cold is brought through a grid of pipes located inside of the fridge. This cold air comes from a cold liquid created by the compression and expansion of a gas. Both hot and cold pipes are linked to a compressor situated at the basis of the fridge.

Magnetic refrigeration: how does it work?

The magnetic refrigeration is based on the magnetocaloric effect: some materials heat when exposed to a magnetic field and cool down when this magnetic field stops.
Refrigerators using this system work with a controlled magnetic field using cycles’ series of magnetisation-demagnetisation. Those cycles are applied on alloys whose temperature reacts to a magnetic field. Each of these cycles will create a temperature difference within the material that, because of the repetition of those cycles, will produce a hot source and a cold source in the frigorific system, just like a heat pump. The hydraulic distribution containing the coolant ensures the heat transfer through the materials towards the hot and cold sources of the system.
This system can be adapted to any type of refrigerated system (commercial refrigeration, shop displays or domestic refrigerator).

Magnetic refrigeration: what are the advantages?

Magnetic refrigerators present countless advantages: cheaper, economical, lighter, silent, more durable, and more efficient than the classic ones. On top of that they are better for the environment!

1- Economical

Magnetic refrigerators require half as much energy as the classic ones to function. Given that domestic refrigerators consume between 5% to 8% of all the electricity produced in developed countries, this could lead to huge savings. What’s more they can be up to 2 times more efficient and require less maintenance as well.
If magnetic refrigerators were mass-produced, their price would decrease even more since the magnetism and the alloy needed are simply iron-based. Therefore, the magnetic cooling could make ultra-efficient refrigerators accessible to everyone.

2- Eco-friendly

The only energy required to function a magnetic refrigerator is the one needed to turn the engine and the water pumps. Contrary to classic refrigerators, they don’t need any chemical, industrial coolants or hazardous gas which are very harmful to the environment. It simply works with iron-based metals.

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