Magnetic Air Conditioners: A High Tech Way Of Keeping Cool

Environmentally Friendly Technology

In a magnetic air conditioner, the alloy acts as the "refrigerant," and plain old water provides the heat transfer, eliminating the need for the decidedly unfriendly hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) used in traditional air conditioners. While the earliest magnetocaloric alloys were either toxic or prohibitively expensive, the latest magnetocaloric materials are cost-effective and environmentally safe.

Magnetic air conditioners do require electricity, but the motor that spins the disk containing the magnetocaloric alloy is expected to be much more efficient than the compressor required to run a traditional air conditioner. According to a 2011 article in Scientific American, Astronautics hopes to have a prototype by 2013 that uses just two-thirds as much electricity as a conventional air conditioner to provide the same amount of cooling.

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