Power/Performance Bits: July 29

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

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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.

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“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.

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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.