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A Weird Way of Cooling Your Food

It might sound like a really crazy idea that could come out from a person’s mind while he’s drunk. Nevertheless, this idea is already scientifically proven.

The idea is creating a refrigerator made from a rubber band. When you stretch a rubber band and hold it against your lips, you would notice that it is warmer. When you release it, it cools. This is called the “elastocaloric” effect, and this effect is very similar to how fluid refrigerants in a fridge or air conditioner transfer heat through compression and expansion.

Now, scientists have created a version that not only stretches the rubber band, but also twists it. It may one day lead to greener cooling technology.
To find out how twisting might enable a new kind of fridge, engineering graduate student Run Wang at Nankai University in Tianjin, China, and colleagues compared the cooling power of rubber fibers, nylon and polyethylene fishing lines, and nickel-titanium wires. For each material, they pulled a 3-centimeter length taut in a vise and began to wind it with a rotary tool. The fibers not only twisted, but also began to coil around themselves—and coil around the coils (a process known as “supercoiling”). The different fibers warmed up by as much as 15°C. When allowed to unwind, the fibers cooled by the same amount.

Check out more details of this study over at Science Magazine.

(Video Credit: Science Magazine/ YouTube)


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