Scientists claim solid state fridge breakthrough


An international team of scientists claims to have found a new material that could provide a new direction for emerging solid-state refrigeration technologies.

An international research team led by Prof LI Bing from the Institute of Metal Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences found that a class of disordered materials, called plastic crystals, exhibit record-large barocaloric effects under very weak pressure.

Phase transitions take place as heat (ie entropy) is exchanged between materials and the environment. When such processes are driven by pressure, the induced cooling effect is called the barocaloric effect, which is a promising alternative to the conventional vapour compression cycle.

The scientists have found that typical entropy changes with the plastic crystals are about several hundred J/kg-K, which is 10 times better than previous materials.

This research is said to be the first report that entropy changes can exceed 100J/kg-K and is said to have achieved the best results among all caloric-effect materials.

As far as potential refrigeration application is concerned, the plastic crystals reported here are described as “very promising” given that they are abundantly available, environmentally friendly, easily driven and high-performance.