Refrigerators and ACs are major cause of climate change due to its coolants. The recently discovered materials, published in Nature Communications journal, can replace the traditional coolants and give another chance for humans to fight climate change.
When put under pressure, plastic crystals of ‘neopentylglycol’ yield huge cooling effects- enough that they are competitive with conventional coolants. In addition, the material is inexpensive, widely available and functions at close to room temperature.
The gases currently used in the vast majority of refrigerators and air conditioners- hydrofluorocarbons and hydrocarbons (HFCs and HCs) – are toxic and flammable. When they leak into the air, they also contribute to global warming.
In the study, researchers described the enormous thermal changes under pressure achieved with plastic crystals.
Conventional cooling technologies rely on the thermal changes that occur when a compressed fluid expands. Most cooling devices work by compressing and expanding fluids such as HFCs and HCs. As the fluid expands, it decreases in temperature, cooling its surroundings.With solids, cooling is achieved by changing the material’s microscopic structure. This change can be achieved by applying a magnetic field, an electric field or through mechanic force.