Power/Performance Bits: July 29

Using fridge magnets for cooling; powering the state of California entirely with renewable energy.


Cool Magnets
MIT researchers believe that magnets on the outside of the refrigerator may someday be used for cooling.

Magnons, which are essentially a collective spin wave or quasi-particle, are also conductors of heat. MIT researchers found that when exposed to a magnetic field gradient, magnons can be driven from one end of a magnet to another, carrying heat with them.

“You can pump heat from one side to the other, so you can essentially use a magnet as a refrigerator,” says Bolin Liao, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. “You can envision wireless cooling where you apply a magnetic field to a magnet one or two meters away to, say, cool your laptop.”

Working with another graduate student, Jiawei Zhou and Dept. of Mechanical Engineering head Gang Chen, they published a paper detailing the magnon cooling theory.

The work was supported in part by the U.S. Dept. of Energy and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

California Dreaming
A study conducted by Stanford University concludes that it is technologically and economically feasible to power the state of California entirely with renewable energy by 2050.

Mark Jacobson, a Stanford professor of civil and environmental engineering, and the study’s lead author, says the state’s power demands could be met with a combination of 25,000 wind turbines, 1,200 100 megawatt solar plants, 15 million 5 kilovolt residential solar systems, 72 100 megawatt geothermal plants. 5,000 0.75 megawatt wave devices, and 3,400 1-megawatt tidal turbines.

The upside includes jobs, about 12,500 fewer air-pollution-related deaths each year, and savings of about $103 billion—not to mention a reduction in global warming.

A Stanford study outlines how power from facilities such as the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in California’s Mojave Desert can be part of the state’s renewable energy future. Source: Stanford.

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