Refrigerators use more electricity than most other household devices. Now researchers believe they might have discovered how to make the appliances more energy efficient.
Writing in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, the scientists said they could siphon cold air from freezers into fresh food compartments. That cold air currently is wasted as it dissipates through the refrigerators’ walls.
“Energy efficiency of a normal refrigerator is affected by the heat-insulating property of the thermal barriers of the freezer,” explained Jingyu Cao at the University of Science and Technology of China in a press release. “The normal thermal barrier of the freezer causes considerable cold loss.”
Cao found that a loop thermosyphon would retain more cold air that could be used elsewhere in the appliance. They reckoned their new walls improved the energy-saving ratio by around 30 per cent, better than they initially expected.
The findings were only theoretical. The results have yet to be demonstrated in a real-life example of new refrigerator technology. But they were nonetheless promising because they were simple and low-cost. The approach would also work in hot climates, Cao added.
“Most families need one or two refrigerators and they are always on 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” he said. “That wastes a lot of energy. Even if we can save a little energy, that helps the human race be more energy-efficient. It has great potential to be popularized as a sustainable energy technology.”
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