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How Does My Fridge Work?

An Overview of Refrigeration

We rely on the principles of refrigeration to preserve our foodstuffs and to keep us cool and productive when the Summer heat is unbearable. It is only natural to wonder how the miracle of refrigeration works and how our predecessors survived without this luxury.

All refrigeration cycles require five core components:

Below is a summary of how these components interact to refrigerate your food.

The compressor constricts the refrigerant vapour causing the pressure to rise.

The compressor then pushes the refrigerant vapour into the coils located on the exterior (usually on the backside) of the refrigerator.

When the hot gas in the coils is introduced to the cooler air in the room, it converts to liquid form.

Once converted to liquid form and still at a high pressure, the refrigerant begins to cool down and flows into the coils inside the freezer and refrigerator.

Next, the refrigerant begins to absorb the heat stored in the cooler and chills the air inside the machine.

The final step in the refrigeration cycle occurs when the refrigerant evaporates to gaseous state. At this point, it flows back to the compressor and the cycle begins again.

Where Refrigeration is Headed

Surprisingly, the technology that still drives refrigeration is the same technology that originally preserved food beginning in the mid-1900s. Currently, scientists are developing the next advance in home refrigeration which is known as magnetic refrigeration.

The new technology will not call for refrigerants or compressors but will be 20 percent more effective and productive than refrigeration technology of the past. Better still, GE reports that the savings in energy will more than compensate for the increased cost of this new technology.

The principles that will drive magnetic refrigeration will also help to make air con more energy efficient and affordable. The technology can easily be applied to the operation of heat pumps used to in HVAC systems. Indeed, magnetic refrigeration will transform the air-conditioning and refrigeration industries in the near future. Projections suggest that 60 percent of US households will be impacted by this new magnetic technology, and the UK will follow.

Prior to Refrigeration

Think about how far refrigeration has come. Before the invention of this cooling technology, ice was the primary product used to preserve food. The development of vapour compression was a major breakthrough in refrigeration.

General Electric sparked the mass refrigeration revolution when it manufactured the first electric refrigerator in 1927. Amazingly, the demand for the product sparked them to manufacture more than 1 million refrigerators within four years. Vapour compression soon became known as the industry standard.

Experts in the field have witnessed the steady but slow improvements in the technology but fear vapour compression will, like so many other staples of the last 100 years, become a technology of the past.

Venkat Venkatakrishnan, the director of advanced technologies at GE Appliances says: "We've spent the past 100 years making the current technology more efficient, but most of the major efficiency increases have been achieved."

How Magnetic Refrigeration Works

Rather than a chemical refrigerant like Freon, magnetic refrigeration will rely upon water to achieve the cooling process. Eventually, magnets will replace the compressor used in just about every refrigerator and heat pump in the world.

The magnetic field will agitate particles in the fluid and cause it to cool. The degree of refrigeration is determined by the strength of the magnetic fields. Venkatakrishnan explains: "This breakthrough can power your fridge with greater efficiency, and because the technology does not contain traditional refrigerants, recycling refrigerators at end of life will be easier and less costly. GE is leading the development of the next refrigeration revolution."

For more information about our refrigeration services contact us today.

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