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Chlorofluorocarbons refrigerants that were used widely today in refrigeration and air conditioning causes the depletion of ozone layer, which is very hazardous to earth. With the goal of making refrigerators and air conditioners more efficient, several groups around the world are developing magnetic-refrigerant materials. A magnetic-cooling system could also be less polluting than current systems because it wouldn't use environmentally harmful chemicals, such as ammonia or chlorofluorocarbons. Instead of ozone-depleting refrigerants and energy-consuming compressors found in conventional vapor-cycle refrigerators, this new style of refrigerator uses gadolinium metal that heats up when exposed to a magnetic field, then cools down when the magnetic field is removed. Magnets are big-time materials, finding roles in products ranging from motors to medical-imaging systems. Now, a team of engineers' improvement of a custom-made magnetic material increases the odds that refrigeration will soon join the roster of magnet-based technologies.
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