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Revolutionizing Cooling: Breakthrough in Thermoacoustic Refrigerator Efficiency

A team led by Prof. LUO Ercang from the Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has made a significant breakthrough in cooling technology by developing an innovative heat-driven thermoacoustic refrigerator (HDTR). Published in Cell Reports Physical Science, this cutting-edge technology showcases a unique bypass configuration that markedly enhances the system’s efficiency, overcoming the traditional limitations faced by thermoacoustic refrigerators.

HDTRs, celebrated for their eco-friendliness, reliability, and lack of moving parts, have faced challenges in commercial viability due to their relatively low efficiency. The efficiency of HDTRs is measured by the coefficient of performance (COP), which represents the ratio of cooling output to heating input.

Traditional HDTRs showed a decrease in COP with increased heating temperature due to a temperature-matching constraint, hindering their performance at high temperatures.

The researchers tackled this issue by introducing a novel bypass configuration that allows a portion of the acoustic power to circumvent the temperature matching constraint. This innovation facilitates efficient energy flow between the engine and cooler units, significantly boosting the system’s efficiency. The team’s kilowatt-scale HDTR prototype, using helium as the working gas, achieved a record COP of 1.12, surpassing previous results by 2.7 times.

Furthermore, the team tested the system’s performance with nitrogen, an abundant and environmentally friendly alternative to helium, and obtained promising results. They anticipate that with further enhancements, the novel HDTR system can outperform double-effect absorption refrigerators, aiming for a potential COP of 2 at a heating temperature exceeding 800℃.

This groundbreaking research presents a significant stride in the field of heat-driven refrigeration, positioning the novel HDTR technology as a competitive candidate for commercial air conditioning applications, and paving the way for more sustainable and efficient cooling solutions.

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