GE believes your next refrigerator could be cooled using magnets

By on February 12, 2014, 9:30 AM

Scientists at General Electric have developed a breakthrough refrigeration system that is said to be 20 percent more efficient than current systems already on the market. Unlike traditional systems that use a chemical refrigerant and a compressor, GE’s new system is based around a metal alloy that heats up when placed near a magnet and cools down when taken away.

That latter bit is what’s important here. As outlined in the clip above, today’s refrigerators work by extracting heat from within and dumping it into your kitchen. The new system would essentially do the same thing, just with magnets and the special metal alloy instead.

The system is still in an early prototype state and is too large to fit inside a commercial fridge. But GE is confident in their ability to shrink the technology down so it’ll be small enough to fit inside a fridge by the end of the decade.

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User Comments: 21

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Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

It'll probably save a lot more energy as well. Never a bad thing.

lmike6453 said:

Big news in the big picture, considering how about 100% of households have a fridge lol

Imagine the world using 20% less electric, or more if they optimize it, from refridgerators

This even spans outside of homes when you think of a gazillion businesses that would benefit as well...

The world, entire world, using less electric...reducing the side effects of how it harms the planet...awesome

2 people like this | TS-56336 TS-56336 said:

It's so cool ... literally.

Misagt said:

This is really great tech that will help the planet. Hopefully this will also remove or greatly reduce the amount of freon needed to cold items. That on top of the reduced need for energy would be amazing as this could then move into A/C units as well.

Guest said:

Imagine if this tech gets into automotive technology. bye bye prestone

ElShotte ElShotte said:

Wait a second. am I missing something here? Nowhere in this article does it mention whether or not there is electricity involved to make this work. For example. if the metal alloy heats up when the magnet is closer can't we make electricity with it?

Guest said:

It is amazing that people are so gullible that they believe whatever the media tells them

does not matter if data is altered, does not matter if data is ignored

just believe what the media tells you, drink the koolaid and shut up

NicktheWVAHick said:

MMMmmmmmm....Magnets.......Arglgrlgrggl

cmbjive said:

Wait a second. am I missing something here? Nowhere in this article does it mention whether or not there is electricity involved to make this work. For example. if the metal alloy heats up when the magnet is closer can't we make electricity with it?

I'm pretty sure electricity will have to be used. I don't think that a magnet will be able to keep up with the cooling process if it didn't have a constant source of energy to feed it.

H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

This gives me chills! :p

Anyway, magnetic CPU cooling??

Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

It is amazing that people are so gullible that they believe whatever the media tells them

does not matter if data is altered, does not matter if data is ignored

just believe what the media tells you, drink the koolaid and shut up

Very enlightening. I especially liked the part where you referenced your sources and how you correlated the altered and ignored data to the specific errors in the article. It was really well done.

Guest said:

Im pretty sure the magnets will have to turn on and off using electricity.

2 people like this | Guest said:

Wait a second. am I missing something here? Nowhere in this article does it mention whether or not there is electricity involved to make this work. For example. if the metal alloy heats up when the magnet is closer can't we make electricity with it?

He mentioned a "heat pump". Im sure electricity would be involved to pump the flow of "liquid" back and forth along the alloy. And from what I can tell, im sure you would need electricity to move the magnets closer, and further away from the alloy to create different temperatures of heat/cool.

I would love to see this technology used in home central AC to replace evaporator coils. Even a drop in unit that could simply replace Evap coils buy bypassing the airflow to blow past the cooled alloys.

1 person liked this | hellokitty[hk] hellokitty[hk], I'm a TechSpot Evangelist, said:

Imagine the world using 20% less electric, or more if they optimize it, from refridgerators

That is NOT how things work just because refrigerators save 20% more power that's a relatively small amount compared to other big energy eaters.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

, post: 1381492, member: 169488"]I'm confused at how that accomplishes anything. I wish they would explain.
You are not the only one. It is my understanding that heat cannot magically appear or disappear, it has to be moved or produced. The magnets must work to accelerate the conduction process, which minimizes the need for refrigerants.

hellokitty[hk] hellokitty[hk], I'm a TechSpot Evangelist, said:

I understand now watching the video again. You are right in your assumptions. It would replace the compression system of a normal refrigerator.

Guest said:

Have a feeling we'll never see it. It will get bought by someone huge, and shelved.

Too big of a threat to too many things, not to mention an entire hvac industry, which employ a lot of jobs.

Sadly GE is not in it for popularity and the good of humanity.

Guest said:

Have a feeling we'll never see it. It will get bought by someone huge, and shelved.

Too big of a threat to too many things, not to mention an entire hvac industry, which employ a lot of jobs.

Sadly GE is not in it for popularity and the good of humanity.

This technology was discovered in the 1930s. It was already put on the shelf. The good news(kinda) is that with all the "go Green" campaigns going on. Anything that can say it saves energy is up for huge government subsidies. And its GE, so they will take it without question. So expect the good ol government to start throwing money at it.

As far as the HVAC industry, I agree. But they can coexist as different technologies. Just like tank less water heaters and hybrid cars.

cmbjive said:

Have a feeling we'll never see it. It will get bought by someone huge, and shelved.

Too big of a threat to too many things, not to mention an entire hvac industry, which employ a lot of jobs.

Sadly GE is not in it for popularity and the good of humanity.

Not every idea makes sense economically or commercially. Don't see conspiracies in everything.

pieceofSchmitt pieceofSchmitt said:

Soooo the compressor is replaced by a slightly different device that may have slightly higher efficiency because it no longer has the mild 10% inefficiency of the compressor. not too exciting

lmike6453 said:

, post: 1381492, member: 169488"]That is NOT how things work just because refrigerators save 20% more power that's a relatively small amount compared to other big energy eaters.

I specifically said saving 20% from fridge only, not 20% overall

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