Researchers at GE have invented a refrigeration system that is touted to be 20 per cent more energy efficient than current systems. Their new system features a heat pump driven by customized magnets.
The new GE refrigeration system is actually based on a century-old discovery by German physicist Emil Warburg in the 1880s, called the magnetocaloric effect. He observed that some metals will heat up in a magnetic field, and cool down when removed from the field.
The scientists at GE picked up from where past researchers like Thomas Edison had left off, and built a heat pump with a special alloy and customized magnets. The magnetocaloric effect of the alloy allowed them to perform the function of heat distribution by current refrigeration systems, but without the need for a refrigerant and a compressor.
According to GE, their current prototype is the “size of a cart”, and is able to lower temperatures by up to 44.4 degrees Celsius. Their immediate target is to reduce the size of the heat pump, and increase its cooling capabilities to 57 degrees Celsius, while reducing its power consumption. For more information, please click here.