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Though modern refrigerators are getting fancy and connected, they're still just a jumble of pipes, pumps and hazardous fluids. Scientists from Canada and Bulgaria have made a discovery in the field of so-called magnetic cooling that may change their core functionality, however. Such systems work when ferromagnetic materials are removed from a magnetic field, causing them to cool down. That cooling energy can be recaptured using water as a heat transfer fluid instead of environmentally harmful hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants. Previous experiments have yielded inefficient systems, but researchers found a compound that could create a so-called giant magnetocaloric effect merely by rotating in a magnetic field. That drastically reduces the required input energy, and could one day result in simpler, more efficient fridges -- or anything else that needs to chill.

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