GE's new refrigerator runs on magnets and water

Credit: GE

We asked, a while back, what you would do with a super powerful magnet. One commenter would find his keys, one type-laughed with terrifying intensity, and one continued to extol the virtues of his aunt making $62/hour on the Internet. Enticing as those things are, GE apparently has other ideas, ones that mostly center around keeping our beers cold.

There’s a lot of crazy refrigerator technology out there, like one that is filled with a disgusting gel, one that completely lacks a door, and one that cools your drink in 45 seconds. Nice as all that is, the fridge you've got in your home probably utilizes some pretty old technology, and by pretty old we mean nearly a century old. That basic compressor system isn't anything new. It works well, but innovation would be welcome for a few reasons. First, it’d be nice to get rid of the chemicals used to cool a fridge. Second, who could argue with cutting down basic power emissions?

Researchers at the GE Labs have solved all of the problems by creating a refrigerator that runs on magnets. The fridge runs a water-based fluid through a bunch of magnets to trigger the magnetocaloric effect, which describes the effect of some metal alloys gaining heat when near magnets, then cooling when pulled away. Pump this throughout the machine and capture the cooling aspect and voila, you've gone and made yourself a fridge!

It’s taken many years, but they've got a small prototype that can reduce temperatures by 80 degrees, tested the way all American cooling appliances should be: by filling it with bottles of warm Coors Light. The prototype has led researchers to predict a full-sized fellow would be 20 to 30 percent more efficient than the one in your kitchen (and it would do that without using any chemicals). In other words, it’d be much cheaper than what you've got now.

Predictions have this baby in your kitchen within the next decade, so you could be rocking a magnetic refrigerator by 2024. Check out the video below to learn more.

GE, via CNET

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