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High efficiency and cooling performance in an electrocaloric heat pump

( Researchers have developed a solid-state electrocaloric cooling device that can generate a 20 kelvin temperature difference with high efficiency, according to a new study. The findings show that electrocaloric cooling can compete with other solid-state cooling strategies and offer a promising alternative to environmentally unfriendly vapor compression cooling. Cooling devices, including air-conditioning and heat pump systems, are estimated to consume roughly 20% of global electricity. Most of these systems operate through vapor-compression technologies, which are relatively inefficient and require environmentally harmful fluorinated refrigerants. Cooling through solid-state electrocaloric materials is an attractive alternative for vapor compression cooling. Electrocaloric technologies are based on ferroelectric materials exposed to an electric field, which triggers changes in the material’s polarization, altering its temperature. This effect could form the basis of highly efficient cooling technologies. However, electrocaloric devices that are commercially competitive have not yet been achieved and, despite clear potential advantages, lag behind most other solid-state cooling technologies. Now, Junning Li and colleagues present a fluid-based double-loop electrocaloric heat pump that can generate a maximum temperature span of 20.9 kelvin (K) and a maximum cooling power of 4.2 watts. According to the authors, the temperature span and cooling power are, respectively, 50% and 15 times larger than those of the previous best electrocaloric device. Moreover, Li et al. show that their device reaches 64% of Carnot’s efficiency (the theoretical maximum efficiency of a cooling system), which exceeds many vapor-compression and caloric cooling devices. “Although the performance of this system may fall short of the requirements of many practical applications, which often require cooling capacities of at least several hundred watts at temperature spans exceeding 20 K, the work of Li et al. underscores the immense future potential of electrocaloric technology,” writes Jaka Tušek in a related Perspective.



The secret behind mussels’ quick-release interface

The same bundle of non-living filaments that mussels use to anchor themselves within their environment – to withstand crushing waves, for example – can also be jettisoned on demand. Mussels create this quick-release interface, a new study finds, by way of a neurochemically-mediated junction, where billions of motile cilia hold fast to interlinked biopolymer sheets. "[The study’s] findings could be informative about how nonliving materials can be dynamically interfaced with living tissue, as in the case of detachable biosensors and medical implants," write Guoqing Pan and Bin Li in a related ...

Presenting a new GRAB sensor toolkit for neuropeptides

New biosensors have helped reveal the activity of neuropeptides in the brain, researchers report, providing novel tools for studying the release, function, and regulation of these crucial signaling molecules in vivo. According to the study, the approach has the potential to address key questions regarding neuropeptides and their roles in health and disease. In the brain, neuropeptides are key signaling molecules in the body that regulate many critical physiological functions, including digestion, metabolism, sleep, and higher ...

UCSC doctoral graduate wins prestigious Science & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists

UCSC doctoral graduate wins prestigious Science & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists
Jessica Kendall-Bar, who received her Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology last year from UC Santa Cruz with co-advisors Terrie Williams and Dan Costa, was named a recipient of the prestigious Science & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists for her research on elephant seal sleep habits while they are at sea. The Science & SciLifeLab Prize is an international prize awarded by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the journal Science to early career scientists for their outstanding thesis research in the life sciences. As ...

How cell identity is preserved when cells divide

CAMBRIDGE, MA -- Every cell in the human body contains the same genetic instructions, encoded in its DNA. However, out of about 30,000 genes, each cell expresses only those genes that it needs to become a nerve cell, immune cell, or any of the other hundreds of cell types in the body.   Each cell’s fate is largely determined by chemical modifications to the proteins that decorate its DNA; these modification in turn control which genes get turned on or off. When cells copy their DNA to divide, however, they lose half of these modifications, leaving the question: How do cells maintain the memory of what kind of cell they are supposed ...

Liverpool’s chemists awarded Queen’s Anniversary Prize for pioneering research to address global challenges

The University of Liverpool’s Department of Chemistry has been awarded a prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize in recognition of its pioneering research and innovation work to address global challenges and benefit society.   The Queen’s Anniversary Prize is the highest national honour in Higher Education. It is awarded in recognition of world-class excellence and achievement to a small selection of UK institutions every two years.   The Department of Chemistry at the University of Liverpool carries out world-leading research that pushes forward the frontiers of ...

Technique enables AI on edge devices to keep learning over time

Technique enables AI on edge devices to keep learning over time
Personalized deep-learning models can enable artificial intelligence chatbots that adapt to understand a user’s accent or smart keyboards that continuously update to better predict the next word based on someone’s typing history. This customization requires constant fine-tuning of a machine-learning model with new data.  Because smartphones and other edge devices lack the memory and computational power necessary for this fine-tuning process, user data are typically uploaded to cloud servers where the model is updated. But data ...

Department of Chemical Engineering receives $3.5 million award to study impact of adolescent exposure to opioids

Department of Chemical Engineering receives $3.5 million award to study impact of adolescent exposure to opioids
Opioid addiction is a pressing public health crisis with far-reaching implications. More than 100,000 deaths a year have been linked to drug overdoses since 2020. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more people died from drug overdoses in 2021 than from firearm and motor vehicle deaths combined. Three-quarters of these overdose deaths were attributable to opioids. A five-year, $3.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse will fund the Virginia Tech Department of Chemical Engineering’s pioneering research to understand how adolescent ...

Terrorism rather than pandemics more concerning for those with those with authoritarian views, analysis shows

Those with authoritarian political views are more likely to be concerned about terrorism and border control than a future new health pandemic, new research shows. During the pandemic, rather than a desire for a stronger government with the ability to impose measures to address the pandemic and its consequences, people with authoritarian views rejected this and embraced individual autonomy. Researchers analysed public perceptions of security threats in 2012 and in 2020. They believe COVID-19 belongs to a distinct category of threats of which those with authoritarian views are less ...

University of Miami receives $1.8 million NOAA grant to study South Florida’s coastal ecosystems

University of Miami receives $1.8 million NOAA grant to study South Florida’s coastal ecosystems
The University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science has been awarded a nearly $1.8 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as part of an anticipated four-year, $4.2 million project to support research on the impacts to South Florida’s coastal ecosystems from a multitude of climate change stressors.  The newly funded project, co-led by the University of Miami Rosenstiel School and NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) will focus on climate impacts to South Florida’s coastal and marine ecosystems, including the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary ...

USF researchers help reduce lead levels in Madagascar drinking water

USF researchers help reduce lead levels in Madagascar drinking water
TAMPA, Fla. (Nov. 16, 2023) -- A team of engineers and public health experts from the University of South Florida is helping Toamasina, Madagascar, residents reduce their exposure to lead – a major global environmental pollutant that causes more than 1 million premature deaths each year. By combining efforts to replace water pumps and educate city technicians, USF researchers helped decrease the blood lead levels of 87 percent of the children tested during their study. “They were taking old car batteries and melting them down to make check ...


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[] High efficiency and cooling performance in an electrocaloric heat pump