Today’s Solutions: March 03, 2024

While your refrigerator is busy cooling your foods, it’s also heating up the atmosphere. That’s because most conventional refrigeration devices rely on compression of gases to produce their cooling effect. It works, but gas refrigerators are energy-hungry, and the hydrofluorocarbons they use are known to destroy the ozone layer. As an alternative, scientists have developed a new cooling system that places an inexpensive organic compound called neopentyl glycol (NPG) along with similar crystals and puts them under pressure by means of a magnetic field, which creates a colossal barocaloric effect (CBCE). In plain English, the crystals get very cold very fast. So, instead of using polluting gases, this system uses organic materials that are easier to compress and cheaper to produce. Now the scientists are working with the University of Cambridge’s commercial arm to produce a marketable version of the technology.

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