Thursday, March 12, 2009

Recycled heat to make cold?

My grandmother had a classic 1950's Kelvinator 'fridge with the rounded look and a large chrome door handle. After she passed away, my uncle put it in his garage where it continued to work faithfully until about its 30th birthday. I bring this up because I remember grandma telling be about her first refrigerator-a unit that worked by burning white gasoline.

Gas refrigerators really aren't a lot different than compressor types. The burning fuel heated brine or ammonia in a tube until it got hot enough to be pushed through an expansion valve under its own pressure. This process would not generate enough cold to make ice, but did a pretty good job otherwise.

So I'm thinking, with this method all you need is a heat source. I have always thought that the 'leftover' heat generated by a car engine just gets wasted, so why not use it to make refrigeration like we did in the old days? No doubt it would not get icy cold like you might be used to, but definitely could work well on those not so hot days. Considering the average automobile air conditioning compressor robs a substantial amount of horsepower, this method might surely pay for itself in MPG savings in short order.


  1. I've had a few people ask how this might actually work.....

    The gas refrigerator used heat from the burning of gas under a coil filled with ammonia. My thought was to put the coil around the catalytic converter or build it into the exhaust manifold and reclaim the heat. Try googling more more information about how gas refrigerators work to get a better picture of what I'm talking about.

    Thanks for reading and happy posting!


  2. Thanks for this great info on junk removal and recycling. Do you know of a good one in Toronto?