If everything goes well, you could see magnets helping in keeping your food cold. Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California have initiated a research to understand and harness giant magnetocaloric effect. Under this effect, a changing magnetic field within a material causes it to get colder. The refrigerators used today contain hydrofluorocarbons, gases that can add tremendously to the greenhouse effect, in addition, they also consume large amount of energy and are noisy.
The researchers claim that the magnetocaloric effect has the potential to deal with these problems, making safer, energy-efficient and quieter refrigerators. They are looking for an alloy that exhibits the effect at room temperature, without too much energy input, and that is affordable. The team has so far tested a nickel-manganese-gallium alloy with added copper and found the addition of copper causes the alloy’s magnetism to weaken, while simultaneously causing its nickel-gallium bond to become stronger. After Sujoy Roy and his team plans on analyzing alloys with added lanthanide, iron, and silicon. The team claims that if they are able to achieve their goal, we could see the magnetocaloric effect be used in laptops and vehicle air conditioning units too.