Green fridge

Published: Friday 15 August 1997

Gadolinium, a rare-earth metal, is being used to create a new technology of refrigeration. The metal heats up when subjected to a magnetic field and cools down when demagnetised. This quality of the metal has been used by Karl Gschnieder, material scientist at Iowa State University, Ames, to make a refrigerator that uses water -- with a little anti-freeze -- as the circulation fluid. The cooling is done by the magnetisation and demagnetisation of gadolinium. Conventional refrigeration technology uses gases such as chlorofluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons that deplete the ozone layer and add to the greenhouse effect ( The Economist , Vol 343, No 8013).

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