APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Air conditioning, refrigeration, and other cooling
- Food preservation
- Avoids the use of environmentally damaging hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
- Potential to be more efficient than vapor-compression systems
- Cooling technologies have been dominated by the vapor-compression thermodynamic cycle for several decades. Vapor-compression technology has reached its peak efficiency with hydrofluorocarbons, which can be very environmentally damaging. HFCs have global warming potential drastically greater than CO2, and are projected to contribute up to 20% of CO2-equivalent emissions by 2050. To reduce the environmental impact of cooling and refrigeration and move away from HFCs, a different thermodynamic cycle must be implemented using new classes of materials.
LBNL researchers have developed a new thermodynamic refrigeration cycle based on the ionocaloric effect, where a changing ionic environment surrounding a solid phase induces a thermal response and a phase change.
The researchers used sodium iodide and ethylene carbonate and a separation process with low applied field (electrodialysis) to develop a system that offers high ionic conductivity, high solubility, a solvent with low viscosity, high melting point, good melting point depression, electrochemical stability, non-toxicity, and non-flammability.
Unlike vapor compression technologies, this ionocaloric system avoids the use of environmentally damaging gasses and may be more efficient than vapor compression. In air conditioning applications, it can also double as energy storage, allowing charging up at night when electricity is cheap, and then using that during the day when it would have been more expensive.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Validated in laboratory
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
- Drew Lilley
- Ravi Prasher
STATUS: Patent pending.
OPPORTUNITIES: Available for licensing or collaborative research.