A new efficient and portable electrocaloric cooling device
In a paper published in the journal Science, researchers with the University of California and SRI International describe a new electrocaloric (EC) cooling device and its possible applications. They developed a cooling device with a high intrinsic thermodynamic efficiency using a flexible EC polymer film and an electrostatic actuation mechanism. Reversible electrostatic forces reduce parasitic power consumption and allow efficient heat transfer through good thermal contacts with the heat source or heat sink. The EC device produced a specific cooling power of 2.8 watts per gram and a COP of 13.
The new cooling device is claimed to be more efficient and compact than existing surface conformable solid state cooling technologies, opening a path to using the technology for a variety of practical applications. They suggest the same technology could be used to create coolers for a chair or hat, for example, or perhaps to chill smartphone batteries. They proved this last claim by actually building such a device and using it to cool down a battery heated by ordinary use—after only 5 seconds, the temperature of the battery had lessened by 8 °C. Comparatively, air cooling the battery reduced its temperature just 3 °C in 50 seconds.
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