The phrase “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” usually pertains to a situation when a new solution to an old problem is suggested and the problem has already been solved. Well take your refrigerator for example. It cools all your food and drinks with a compressor and a chemical known as a refrigerant. It has worked pretty well for about a hundred years but its time for a change, whether the aforementioned phrase holds true or not.
General Electric (GE), an American Company has come up with a new way to cool your drinks using a water based fluid and magnets, lots of magnets. The principle is the magnetocaloric effect. It was discovered in the 1800s and describes how some metals heat up when magnets are brought close to them and cool down when magnets are pulled away.
General Electric tested the refrigerator by cooling a bottle of beer, the drink that is arguably most often refrigerated by Americans. The process has 50 cooling stages and can lower the temperature of a substance by 44 degrees Celsius and is estimated to be about 20 to 30 percent more efficient than current refrigerators.
But as with any new innovation, a practical, economical and aptly sized model is almost a decade away. The current machine is the size of a cart and can hardly be fit in to a refrigerator to replace the compressor inside.
That aside, Venkat Venkatakrishnan, the lead researcher on this project has called the invention a “revolution” in refrigeration and the invention could potentially save billions of dollars.