If current research efforts are successful, within a few years you may find compressors and evaporators only in refrigeration museums.

With help from the Dept. of Energy, several manufacturers are pursuing magnetic refrigeration techniques in an quest to boost the energy efficiency of residential refrigerators. The fruits of these efforts may come to appliance showrooms in five years or so.

The traditional vapor-compression cycle used in refrigeration may be relegated to the history books if researchers are right about magnetic (magnetocaloric) refrigeration. At least one major appliance maker plans to commercialize magnetic refrigeration for use in the home. The rationale for the change is that the technology uses no refrigerants or compressors and is said to be 20% more efficient than conventional techniques. It could also work well in HVAC.

The potential energy efficiency of magnetic refrigeration has made it the subject of serious study for quite some time. The Dept. of Energy’s ARPA-E research program, for example, has made….Read More