Refrigerators are one of the main consumers in an average household, just because they need to stay connected to the grid 24/7. Because they constitute such a big part of a home’s power consumption, researchers from Spain along with a group from the University of Duisburg-Essen (Germany), started to develop a new solid material that could be used for making greener refrigerators – green both as the materials used and as energy consumption.
The material used by them is a nickel-manganese-indium allow (Ni-Mn-In), that if applied a moderate hydrostatic pressure produces effects comparable to those achieved with the best magnetocaloric materials.
Magnetocaloric materials have been the most advanced in this field by now. The researchers’ new material also produces a caloric effect under hydrostatic pressure. For developing their discovery, they worked on a high-pressure system developed by the UPC (Universitat Politi¨cnica de Catalunya).
Antoni Planes, one of the researchers, says that “this type of material can produce much greater caloric effects with only slight variations in pressure, which makes it ideal for domestic refrigeration systems (refrigerators, air conditioning, etc.).”
When these alloys are submitted to an external field, either magnetic or pressure, the material undergoes a solid-state phase transition, and Lluis Mai±osa explains that, “this phase change generates a considerable latent heat exchange.” The physical principle involved is the same as the effect observed when an ice cube is placed into a glass of water: the ice absorbs heat from the water, lowering its temperature.