New 'Smart' Metal Could Mean Cool Cash for Consumers, Less CO2
If a new "smart" metal could help cool at 175% more efficiently than current technology, imagine what that would do for your electric bills.
Researchers at the University of Maryland are developing a new "thermally elastic" metal alloy for use in advanced refrigeration and air conditioning systems. The technology promises greater efficiency and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
The Maryland team will soon begin testing of a prototype system, with economic stimulus funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.
The lead researchers on the project, Ichiro Takeuchi, Manfred Wuttig and Jun Cui, materials science engineers in Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering, have developed a solid coolant to take the place of fluids used in conventional refrigeration and air conditioning compressors.
In the next phase of research, the team will now test the commercial viability of their smart metal for space cooling applications. The 0.01-ton prototype is intended to replace conventional vapor compression cooling technology. Instead of fluids, it uses a solid-state material their thermoelastic shape memory alloy.
This two-state alloy alternately absorbs or creates heat in much the same way as a compressor-based system, but uses far less energy. Also, it has a smaller operational footprint than conventional technology, and avoids the use of fluids with high global warming potential.
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Annual Salary Survey
Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.
There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.
But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.
Read more: 2015 Salary Survey