The future of cooling?
– Sebastiaan Jansen, 30/04/19
The cooling machines we use are based on a vapour-compressing principle which is dependable but energy-consuming. This has led to an ongoing search for new cooling methods and unconventional machines. Let’s take a peek at the various candidates for the future of cooling.
The cooling machines normally used today are based on the principle of evaporation and condensation. They use complex substances, pressure differences and lots of moving parts. This makes them consume a great deal of energy, which isn’t very environmentally friendly. What are the alternatives? Although the research on more effective cooling is an ongoing process, two potential new cooling methods seem promising.
Magnetic cooling technology
The magnetic approach deploys a material made out of a particular alloy that is conducive to magnetic effects. The material heats up when exposed to a magnetic field and quickly cools down when a magnet is removed or when it reaches a gap in the field. This phenomenon is called the magnetocaloric effect and allows temperatures below 0.3 K (-272.85° C, very close to absolute zero) to be achieved. It requires no chemical refrigerants and has the potential to reduce the consumption of energy substantially. Although this method is already used in small domestic refrigerators, magnetic cooling technology still has lower COP (coefficient of performance) than conventional cooling machines.
The thermoacoustic method uses soundwaves to transfer heat. Sound waves are oscillations, or a series of expansions and compressions, in a material. Temperature fluctuates in tandem with this oscillation, with compression leading to a release of heat and expansion to an absorption of heat – the compressed segments of the soundwaves push the heat out while the expanding waves pull in heat out of the environment. This cooling method requires no moving parts.
Alternative cooling methods have substantial advantages compared to the conventional approach, like the lack of moving parts and the absence of substances harmful to the environment. However, they are not yet as efficient as standard vapour-compression methods. Until technology has advanced to the point where alternatives can guarantee equal or better performances, the trusty old-fashioned cooling machines will be here to stay.
Sebastiaan Jansen | Manager Cooling Department
Sebastiaan Jansen has been working at Heinen & Hopman since 1997. He started as assistant mechanic at our company and worked his way up to the position of Manager Cooling Department. Sebastiaan and his team are responsible for the engineering of the cooling systems for all kinds of Heinen & Hopman projects. He aims to achieve the highest quality systems through applying innovative technologies. A challenging, but interesting, task.