Cost Effective and Eco-Friendly Alternative Fridges
Think about some of the energy intensive appliances that you use very frequently each day. Within the list, one of the most notorious appliances would have to be the fridge. But keeping freshness and coldness seems to be an absolute necessity for modern 21st century food preservation, right? So this can’t really be helped… Or can it?
Refrigeration, as energy costly as it may seem to be, does not always require much electricity to run. That’s right, there is a way to save ourselves from the 24/7 power consumption of a conventional fridge. This is made possible by using other alternative refrigeration technologies that do not directly require energy from an outlet.
Gas Powered Fridge
This is one of the older cooling technologies that were utilized even before the advent of regular home power generation. Many of you who have used RV’s and other multi-utility vehicles should already be quite familiar with this kind of fridge. The working principle of a gas powered fridge takes into account the simple fact that heat can be created and utilized via the burning of gas such as propane to cycle the cooling process needed for refrigeration. The coolant used can travel through the compressor, condenser, and evaporator simply by changing its state (liquid to gas to liquid), so the gas fridge does not require mechanical or moving parts to work.
Okay, okay, we all know that any use of solar energy for heating and cooling is usually not very efficient. However, solar refrigerators can be quite useful if we weigh the economic advantages that it could have for areas that would otherwise not have any other means of generating power for a regular fridge. The SunDanzer fridge is a good example, a fridge that was initially developed by NASA for the International Space Station. It requires at least 5 hours of sunlight to work for one day, and can run for about a week by using its backup batteries.
If a solar panel/battery setup is out of your budget, then you could perhaps try a more crude approach to solar refrigeration. The cylindrical evaporator fridge developed by Emily Cummins for example, works by placing water between two cylinders of different sizes. The item to be refrigerated is placed on the smaller cylinder. Heat is then dissipated away from it through contact with the metal walls, which contact the evaporating water on the other side. The temperatures inside a fully cooled cylindrical evaporator fridge can get around 6 degrees Celsius. One drawback of this refrigeration technology is that it is pretty useless if there is a substantial level of humidity in your area. Another is that the system does not provide any backup refrigeration in case the sun isn’t present.
An old but recently revived refrigeration method developed today, magnetic refrigeration uses the temperature changes generated when a heavy magnetic element such as gadolinium is subjected to or released from a magnetic field. The cold part or the metal is made to dissipate heat from a fluid that flows and circulates throughout the system. The advantages of magnetic refrigeration is that it is more energy-efficient (compared to other methods), water can be used as the coolant (no need for CFCs and other poisonous compounds), and it operates silently. There’s one hitch though, magnetic refrigeration technology is still in the development stages, so it would still take quite some time before the first commercial models become available to consumers.
These are some of the alternative technologies that can be used in place of regular vapor compression refrigerators. But if you really need a quicker solution, or if these technologies are nowhere available near you, you can always try to switch to a less energy costly (albeit smaller) fridge.
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