BASF Developing ‘Totally New Technology’ That May Make Refrigerators & ACs 50% More Efficient

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German chemicals giant BASF SE is working on what the company describes as a “totally new technology” that reportedly has the potential to reduce the energy consumption of refrigerators, air conditioners and other appliances used for cooling by as much as 50%.

The research, which the company says could lead to a new product being available “on an industrial scale in the near future,” is aimed at developing an alternative to chemical refrigerants. This alternative would utilize magnetocaloric materials, solid alloys that generate electromagnetic fields. Such materials heat up in a magnetic field and cool down when the field is removed.

If BASF, working in cooperation with Dutch researchers, succeeds, not only would energy costs for refrigerators, air conditioners and other big power-consuming appliances be greatly reduced, but the need for chemical refrigerants would be eliminated, too, making these appliances far more environmentally-friendly.

According to the company, the “magnetocaloric effect” would provide “economic and ecological benefits in every household.” Importantly, the company believes that “no high initial investments” would be needed to make these new refrigerators and air conditioners available to consumers.

BASF says it is researching all aspects of magnetocaloric materials, from how they work to which alloys would work best to how commercial production of alloy-containing refrigerators could be achieved.

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