GE magnetic refrigeration system hints at more efficient future

Feb 11, 2014
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In a time when manufacturers are looking to give your kitchen appliances connectivity to the digital world, GE has busied itself with improving how the appliances work: in this case, how your refrigerator may one day keep food cold. In a short video, GE has shown off its magnetic refrigeration system, which eschews conventional refrigerants and compressors for metals and magnets.

Using the magnetocaloric effect first observed in the late 1800s, GE's research team has been working on a system that uses magnets and special metals to shuttle water through a refrigeration system, rather than the traditionally used chemical coolant and compressor setup.

At its start, GE's system was very large, much like the early days of computers, and has since shrunk down to a system described as about the size of a cart, which is demonstrated in the video above. In the future, the researchers hope to get the system down to a small unit that somewhat resembles a large automotive oil filter that could fit within the average refrigerator.

It could take the rest of this decade -- and possibly longer -- for the system to find its way into consumer appliances, but when it does, it is estimated it could be up to 20-percent more efficient than systems in use today. In its present version, the system is capable of reducing temperatures by 80 degrees.

SOURCE: Digital Trends


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