US20070125095A1 - Heat transporting apparatus - Google Patents

Heat transporting apparatus Download PDF

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Publication number
US20070125095A1
US20070125095A1 US11/533,163 US53316306A US2007125095A1 US 20070125095 A1 US20070125095 A1 US 20070125095A1 US 53316306 A US53316306 A US 53316306A US 2007125095 A1 US2007125095 A1 US 2007125095A1
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Prior art keywords
magnetic field
heat
refrigerant
magnetic
increasing
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Abandoned
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US11/533,163
Inventor
Hideo Iwasaki
Akihiro Kasahara
Katsumi Hisano
Akihiro Koga
Akiko Saito
Tadahiko Kobayashi
Takuya Takahashi
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Toshiba Corp
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Toshiba Corp
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Priority to JP2005-352242 priority Critical
Priority to JP2005352242A priority patent/JP4533838B2/en
Application filed by Toshiba Corp filed Critical Toshiba Corp
Assigned to KABUSHIKI KAISHA TOSHIBA reassignment KABUSHIKI KAISHA TOSHIBA ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: TAKAHASHI, TAKUYA, KASAHARA, AKIHIRO, KOBAYASHI, TADAHIKO, KOGA, AKIHIRO, SAITO, AKIKO, HISANO, KATSUMI, IWASAKI, HIDEO
Publication of US20070125095A1 publication Critical patent/US20070125095A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F25REFRIGERATION OR COOLING; COMBINED HEATING AND REFRIGERATION SYSTEMS; HEAT PUMP SYSTEMS; MANUFACTURE OR STORAGE OF ICE; LIQUEFACTION SOLIDIFICATION OF GASES
    • F25BREFRIGERATION MACHINES, PLANTS OR SYSTEMS; COMBINED HEATING AND REFRIGERATION SYSTEMS; HEAT-PUMP SYSTEMS
    • F25B21/00Machines, plant, or systems, using electric or magnetic effects
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F25REFRIGERATION OR COOLING; COMBINED HEATING AND REFRIGERATION SYSTEMS; HEAT PUMP SYSTEMS; MANUFACTURE OR STORAGE OF ICE; LIQUEFACTION SOLIDIFICATION OF GASES
    • F25BREFRIGERATION MACHINES, PLANTS OR SYSTEMS; COMBINED HEATING AND REFRIGERATION SYSTEMS; HEAT-PUMP SYSTEMS
    • F25B2321/00Details of machines, plants, or systems, using electric or magnetic effects
    • F25B2321/002Details of machines, plants, or systems, using electric or magnetic effects by using magneto-caloric effects
    • F25B2321/0022Details of machines, plants, or systems, using electric or magnetic effects by using magneto-caloric effects with a rotating or otherwise moving magnet
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02BCLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION TECHNOLOGIES RELATED TO BUILDINGS, e.g. HOUSING, HOUSE APPLIANCES OR RELATED END-USER APPLICATIONS
    • Y02B30/00Energy efficient heating, ventilation or air conditioning [HVAC]
    • Y02B30/60Other technologies for heating or cooling
    • Y02B30/66Magnetic cooling

Abstract

In a heat transporting apparatus, a cylinder is filled with a refrigerant and pistons are arranged in the cylinder, which compress and expand the refrigerant in the cylinder. A magnet unit is movably provided around the cylinder to apply a magnetic field to the cylinder, which is alternately increased and decreased in accordance with a movement of the magnet unit. A thermal accumulator is received in the cylinder, which produces heat depending on one of the increasing and decreasing of the magnetic field at the compression of the refrigerant, and absorbs heat depending on the other of the increasing and decreasing of the magnetic field at the expansion of the refrigerant. Heat exchangers are located in the cylinder, which radiates the heat from the refrigerant and thermal accumulator to an exterior of the apparatus, and absorbs external heat and transfers the heat to the refrigerant and thermal accumulator.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application is based upon and claims the benefit of priority from prior Japanese Patent Application No. 2005-352242, filed Dec. 6, 2005, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • 1. Field of the Invention
  • The present invention relates to a heat transporting apparatus for transporting heat with utilizing a refrigerating cycle having a refrigerant compressing and expanding processes.
  • 2. Description of the Related Art
  • Refrigerators or heat pumps have been known as apparatuses that utilize a refrigerating cycle to transport heat. Among the refrigerators serving as heat transporting apparatuses, Stirling refrigerators are gathering much attention for their high energy efficiency. The Stirling refrigerator is essentially expected to offer a very high refrigerating efficiency. However, the Stirling refrigerator is actually used mainly to provide very low temperatures (which are almost equal to liquid helium temperature). On the other hand, the Stirling refrigerator can use helium as a refrigerant; helium is a natural refrigerant which is harmless to human beings and which is not involved in ozone layer destruction or global warming.
  • The Stirling refrigerator operates in accordance with a Stirling refrigerating cycle including four basic processes, isothermal compression, isovolumetric cooling, isothermal expansion, and isovolumetric heating. To implement the Stirling refrigerating cycle, a high- and low-temperature cylinder sections are provided in which a refrigerant is sealed. A higher-temperature heat exchanger, a thermal accumulator or heat storage device, and a lower-temperature heat exchanger are disposed between the cylinder sections. Compression and expansion of the refrigerant are repeated in the cylinder sections to transport heat from the lower-temperature heat exchanger to the higher-temperature heat exchanger. Of the four basic processes of the Stirling refrigerating cycle, the isovolumetric heating and cooling are mainly based on the heat exchange between the heat exchanger and the thermal accumulator. The heat radiation and absorption by the higher- and lower-temperature heat exchangers occur during the isothermal compression and expansion processes.
  • However, the efficiency of the Stirling refrigerating cycle used for the Stirling refrigerator is mainly limited by the heat conducting performance of the higher- and lower-temperature heat exchangers and thermal accumulator. Consequently, in spite of the theoretical high efficiency, actual apparatuses are disadvantageously inefficient and fail to achieve the desired performance.
  • Thus, to improve the performance of the refrigerator, it is important to increase the heat exchanging efficiency during the Stirling refrigerating cycle. To increase the heat exchanging efficiency, it is necessary to improve the heat exchanging performance of the higher- and lower-temperature heat exchangers and thermal accumulator.
  • BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • According to an aspect of the present invention, there is provided a heat transfer apparatus comprising:
  • a container filled with a refrigerant;
  • an operation unit which compresses the refrigerant to produce heat and expands the refrigerant to absorb heat in the container, alternately;
  • a generating unit configured to generate a magnetic field which is increased and decreased, alternately;
  • a thermal accumulator received in the container, to which the magnetic field is applied, and which produces heat depending on one of the increasing and decreasing of the magnetic field at the time of compression of the refrigerant and absorbs heat depending on the other of the increasing and decreasing of the magnetic field at the time of expansion of the refrigerant; and
  • first and second heat transfer units, the first heat transfer unit transferring the heat produced in the refrigerant and the thermal accumulator to the outside of the apparatus, and the second heat transfer unit transferring external heat to the refrigerant and the thermal accumulator.
  • According to another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a heat transporting apparatus comprising:
  • a cylindrical container provided with compression and expansion chambers communicating with each other and filled with a refrigerant;
  • a compression piston received in the cylindrical container, which compresses the refrigerant in the expansion chamber and an expansion piston which expands the refrigerant in the expansion chamber;
  • a generating unit configured to generate a magnetic field which is increased and decreased, alternately;
  • a thermal accumulator received in the cylindrical container, to which the magnetic field is applied, and which produces heat depending on one of the increasing and decreasing of the magnetic field at the time of compression of the refrigerant, and absorbs heat depending on the other of the increasing and decreasing of the magnetic field at the time of expansion of the refrigerant; and
  • first and second heat transfer units, the first heat transfer unit transferring the heat produced in the refrigerant and the thermal accumulator to the outside of the apparatus, and the second heat transfer unit transferring external heat to the refrigerant and the thermal accumulator.
  • According to yet another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a heat transporting apparatus comprising:
  • a cylindrical container filled with a refrigerant;
  • pistons received in the cylindrical container, which compress and expand the refrigerant;
  • a generating unit configured to generate a magnetic field which is increased and decreased, alternately;
  • a thermal accumulator received in the cylindrical container, to which the magnetic field is applied, and which produces heat depending on one of the increasing and decreasing of the magnetic field at the time of compression of the refrigerant and absorbs heat depending on the other of the increasing and decreasing of the magnetic field at the time of expansion of the refrigerant; and
  • first and second heat transfer units, the first heat transfer unit transferring the heat produced in the refrigerant and the thermal accumulator to the outside of the apparatus, and the second heat transfer unit transferring external heat to the refrigerant and the thermal accumulator.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING
  • FIGS. 1A to 1D are schematic diagrams schematically showing a refrigerator that is applied to a first embodiment, to describe the basic operation and structure of the refrigerator;
  • FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram specifically and three-dimensionally showing a refrigerator that is applied to a second embodiment;
  • FIGS. 3A and 3B are diagrams showing the general configuration of a magnetic material for a thermal accumulator in the refrigerator shown in FIG. 2;
  • FIGS. 4A and 4B are schematic diagrams showing the general configuration of a mechanism used in the refrigerator shown in FIG. 2 to increase or reduce the magnitude of a magnetic field;
  • FIGS. 5A to 5D are schematic diagrams illustrating operations of the refrigerator shown in FIG. 2;
  • FIGS. 6A to 6D are schematic diagrams showing the general configuration of a refrigerator that is applied to a third embodiment;
  • FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram specifically and three-dimensionally showing a refrigerator that is applied to a fourth embodiment;
  • FIGS. 8A and 8B are schematic diagrams illustrating operations of the refrigerator shown in FIG. 7;
  • FIGS. 9A and 9B are schematic diagrams showing the general configuration of a refrigerator that is applied to a fifth embodiment;
  • FIG. 10 is a schematic diagram showing the general configuration of a refrigerator that is applied to a sixth embodiment; and
  • FIGS. 11A and 11B are schematic diagrams illustrating operations of the refrigerator shown in FIG. 10.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • With reference to the drawings, description will be given of heat transporting apparatuses according to embodiments of the present invention.
  • FIRST EMBODIMENT
  • FIGS. 1A to 1D show a basic configuration of a heat transporting apparatus such as a refrigerator, which utilizes a Stirling refrigerating cycle.
  • In FIG. 1, reference numeral 1 denotes a cylinder that is a cylindrical container. The cylinder 1 is open at its opposite ends and is filled with a gas refrigerant, for example, helium or nitrogen. The cylinder 1 has a heat storage device 2 in the center of its hollow portion; the heat storage device 2 serves as a thermal accumulator. The heat storage device 2 is composed of a magnetic material 3 having its temperature changed in response to an increase or decrease in the magnitude of a magnetic field. In this embodiment, the magnetic material 3 is a positive one, for example, a GD-based material, which has its temperature raised (heat generation) in response to an increase in the magnitude of the magnetic field, while having its temperature lowered (heat absorption) in response to a decrease in the magnitude of the magnetic field.
  • Inside the cylinder 1, a higher-temperature heat exchanger 4 is placed in proximity to one end of the heat storage device 2. A lower-temperature heat exchanger 5 is placed in proximity to the other end of the heat storage device 2. The higher-temperature heat exchanger 4 radiates heat from the refrigerant and heat storage device 2 to the exterior of the apparatus. The lower-temperature heat exchanger 5 absorbs external heat on the basis of heat absorption by the refrigerant and heat storage device 2.
  • A compression piston 6 is provided in an opening of the cylinder 1 which is closer to the higher-temperature heat exchanger 4. An expansion piston 7 is provided in an opening of the cylinder 1 which is closer to the lower-temperature heat exchanger 5. The compression piston 6 and expansion piston 7 constitute an operation unit. The compression piston 6 moves in the direction of arrow A shown in FIG. 1A to compress a refrigerant inside the cylinder 1. The expansion piston 7 moves in the direction of arrow C shown in FIG. 1C to compress the refrigerant inside the cylinder
  • A mechanism 8 for generating a magnetic field and increasing and reducing the magnetic field is placed outside the cylinder 1 around the periphery of the heat storage device 2. The magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 8 increases and reduces the magnitude of a magnetic field that is applied to the magnetic material 3 in the heat storage device 2. The magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 8 is not limited to a particular one shown in FIGS. 1A to 1D. The mechanism may be modified or altered to various units or apparatuses that provide a function for increasing and reducing the magnitude of a magnetic field that is applied to the magnetic material 3. The magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 8 may be an electromagnet that can be turned on and off, or a magnetic field generating unit, for example, a permanent magnet.
  • Now, description will be given of the operation of the refrigerator configured as described above.
  • First, the compression piston 6 is moved in a direction A, that is, from the left to right of the figure, to compress the refrigerant in the cylinder 1 as shown in FIG. 1A. During the compression process, actuation of the higher-temperature heat exchanger 4 radiates heat generated from the refrigerant by compression, in the direction of arrow B in FIG. 1A to the exterior of the apparatus via the higher-temperature heat exchanger 4. An isothermal refrigerant compressing process is thus executed. Simultaneously with the compression of the refrigerant, the magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 8 applies a magnetic field to the heat storage device 2. Here, the heat storage device 2 is composed of the magnetic material 3 having its temperature changed in response to an increase or decrease in the magnitude of a magnetic field. However, this embodiment uses a positive magnetic material which has its temperature raised (heat generation) in response to an increase in the magnitude of the magnetic field and which has its temperature lowered (heat absorption) in response to a decrease in the magnitude of the magnetic field. The temperature of the heat storage device 2 thus rises. The higher-temperature heat exchanger 4 is in operation even during the application of the magnetic field. Thus, heat generated from the heat storage device 2 is also radiated in the direction of arrow B to the exterior of the apparatus via the higher-temperature heat exchanger 4. In other words, during the refrigerant compressing process shown in FIG. 1A, not only heat from the refrigerant but also heat generated from the magnetic material 3 can be radiated to the exterior of the apparatus via the higher-temperature heat exchanger 4.
  • Then, as shown in FIG. 1B, with the volume of the cylinder 1 between the compression piston 6 and the expansion piston 7 remaining fixed, the compression piston 6 and expansion piston 7 are simultaneously moved rightward to move the refrigerant rightward in the cylinder 1.
  • Then, as shown in FIG. 1C, the expansion piston 7 is moved in a C direction, that is, from the right to left of the figure, to expand the refrigerant in the cylinder 1. At this time, actuation of the lower-temperature heat exchanger 5 allows the refrigerant cooled by expansion to absorb external heat in the direction of arrow D. An isothermal refrigerant expansion process is thus executed. Simultaneously with the expansion of the refrigerant, the magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 8 removes the magnetic field applied to the heat storage device 2. The heat storage device 2 is composed of a positive magnetic material that has its temperature lowered (heat absorption) in response to a decrease in the magnitude of a magnetic field. The temperature of the heat storage device 2 thus lowers. The lower-temperature heat exchanger 5 is in operation even during the decrease in temperature. Consequently, external heat can further be absorbed via the lower-temperature heat exchanger 5. In other words, during the refrigerant expansion process shown in FIG. 1C, heat is absorbed not only by the refrigerant but also by the magnetic material 3. Under these conditions, external heat can be absorbed via the lower-temperature heat exchanger 5.
  • Then, as shown in FIG. 1D, with the volume of the cylinder 1 between the compression piston 6 and the expansion piston 7 remaining fixed, the compression piston 6 and expansion piston 7 are moved leftward in the figure to move the refrigerant leftward in the cylinder 1.
  • The process shown in FIGS. 1A to 1D is repeated as described above to repeatedly execute the four basic processes, isothermal compression, isovolumetric cooling, isothermal expansion, and isovolumetric heating. The Stirling refrigerating cycle is thus implemented. Specifically, repetition of the compression and expansion processes allows the refrigerant to generate and absorb heat. The heat storage device 2, composed of the magnetic material 3, is caused to repeat a heat generating and absorbing reactions by increasing and reducing the magnitude of the magnetic field simultaneously with the repeated compression and expansion processes. This allows the higher-temperature heat exchanger 4 to radiate heat, while allowing the lower-temperature heat exchanger 5 to absorb heat.
  • Accordingly, in the refrigerating cycle having the refrigerant compression and expansion processes, the compression process not only allows the refrigerant to generate heat but also applies a magnetic field to the magnetic material 3 constituting the heat storage device 2 to allow the magnetic material 3 to make a heat generating reaction. The heat from the magnetic material 3 is radiated via the higher-temperature heat exchanger 4. Consequently, this refrigerator can radiate more heat to the exterior of the apparatus. The expansion process not only expands the refrigerant to allow it to absorb heat but also removes the magnetic field to allow the magnetic material 3 to make a heat absorbing reaction. This enables more external heat to be absorbed via the lower-temperature heat exchanger 5. Thus, simultaneously with the heat generation and absorption by the refrigerant, the heat storage device 2 composed of the magnetic material 3 is caused to make heat generating and absorbing reactions. The present refrigerating cycle having the compression and expansion processes offers a drastically increased heat exchanging efficiency. Therefore, a Stirling refrigerating cycle with a good heat transporting capability can be implemented.
  • The above first embodiment repeats the four basic processes, isothermal compression, isovolumetric cooling, isothermal expansion, and isovolumetric heating, to implement a Stirling refrigerating cycle. An Ericsson cycle can be implemented by substituting isobaric processes for the two isovolumetric processes in the Stirling refrigerating cycle. A Brayton cycle can be implemented by substituting adiabatic processes for the compression and expansion processes in the Stirling refrigerating cycle and substituting isobaric processes for the two isovolumetric processes.
  • SECOND EMBODIMENT
  • FIG. 2 is a three-dimensional cross sectional view showing a refrigerator of a second embodiment which is realized in accordance with the first embodiment.
  • In FIG. 2, reference numeral 11 denotes a cylindrical casing. A compression cylinder 12 and an expansion cylinder 13 are arranged in parallel inside the casing 11. Each of the compression cylinder 12 and expansion cylinder 13 is open at one end and is closed at the other end. The closed ends are connected together via a communication pipe 14 that allows the interior of the compression cylinder 12 to communicate with the interior of the expansion cylinder 13. The compression cylinder 12 and expansion cylinder 13 are filled with a gas refrigerant, for example, helium or nitrogen.
  • A heat storage device 15 is placed in the compression cylinder 12. The heat storage device 15 is provided with a magnetic material 16 having its temperature changed in response to an increase or decrease in the magnitude of a magnetic field. In this embodiment, the magnetic material 16 is a positive one, for example, a GD-based material, which has its temperature raised (heat generation) in response to an increase in the magnitude of the magnetic field, while having its temperature lowered (heat absorption) in response to a decrease in the magnitude of the magnetic field. As the magnetic material 16, generally spherical magnetic materials 16 a of diameter about 1 mm or less may be filled in to the heat storage device 15 to form a porous member containing a large number of voids as shown in FIG. 3A. Alternatively, a bulk material may be used which contains communication holes 16 b which consist of small holes and which communicate with the exterior as shown in FIG. 3B.
  • A higher-temperature heat exchanger 17 is placed in proximity to the heat storage device 15. The higher-temperature heat exchanger 17 is placed opposite the communication pipe 14 across the heat storage device 15. The higher-temperature heat exchanger 17 radiates heat from the refrigerant and heat storage device 15 to the exterior of the apparatus.
  • A compression piston 18 is provided in the compression cylinder 12. The compression piston 18 is inserted into the compression cylinder 12 through its opening to compress the refrigerant in the compression cylinder 12. A piston shaft 19 is connected to the compression piston 18. A connecting bar 20 is connected to the piston shaft 19 and to a flywheel 21 at a position away from its rotating center. The connecting bar 20 thus constitutes a crank mechanism that converts a rotating motion of the flywheel 21 into a reciprocating motion to reciprocate the piston shaft 19 in the direction of arrow E in FIG. 2. The flywheel 21 has its rotating center connected to a rotating shaft 221 of a driving motor 22. The flywheel 21 is rotated at a predetermined speed.
  • A lower-temperature heat exchanger 23 is placed inside the expansion cylinder 13. The lower-temperature heat exchanger 23 absorbs external heat on the basis of heat absorption by the refrigerant and heat storage device 15. An expansion piston 24 is provided in the expansion cylinder 13. The expansion piston 24 is inserted into the expansion cylinder 13 through its opening to compress the refrigerant in the expansion cylinder 13. A piston shaft 25 is connected to the expansion piston 24. A connecting bar 26 is connected to the piston shaft 25 and to a flywheel 27 at a position away from its rotating center. The connecting bar 26 thus constitutes a crank mechanism that converts a rotating motion of the flywheel 27 into a reciprocating motion to reciprocate the piston shaft 25 in the direction of arrow F in FIG. 2. The flywheel 27 has its rotating center connected to the rotating shaft 221 of the driving motor 22. The flywheel 27 is rotated at a predetermined speed.
  • A disk-like support plate 28 is integrally provided on the piston shaft 19. A mechanism 30 for generating a magnetic field and increasing and reducing the magnetic field is provided on the support plate 28 via a support arm 29. The magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 30 has a cylindrical shape with the compression cylinder located in its hollow portion. The piston shaft 19 reciprocates in the direction of arrow E to allow the magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 30 to increase or reduce the magnitude of a magnetic field that is applied to the heat storage device 15.
  • In the refrigerator shown in FIG. 2, the connecting bar 20 is attached to the flywheel 21, located closer to the compression piston 18, so as to rotate about 90° earlier in rotation phase than a connecting bar 26 attached to the flywheel 27, located closer to the expansion piston 24. The connecting bars 20 and 26 are arranged so as to meet the above relationship, and the piston shafts 19 and 25 reciprocate on the basis of this positional relationship. This serves to implement the four basic processes, isothermal compression, isovolumetric cooling, isothermal expansion, and isovolumetric heating, described above and shown in FIGS. 1A to 1D.
  • The magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 30 may be, for example, a double cylindrical magnet called a Halbach magnet, such as the one shown in FIGS. 4A and 4B. This double cylindrical magnet is composed of an outer cylindrical magnet 302 and an inner cylindrical magnet 301 placed in a hollow portion of the outer cylindrical magnet 302 at a predetermined spacing from the magnet 302. In the cylindrical magnets 301 and 302, the directions of magnetic anisotropy at different areas are denoted by reference numerals 303 and 304. As shown in FIG. 4A, when the direction of a magnetic field 305 generated in the hollow portion by the inner cylindrical magnet 301 coincides with the direction of a magnetic field 306 generated in the hollow portion by the outer cylindrical magnet 302, a strong magnetic field is generated in a space 307 in the hollow portion of the inner cylindrical magnet 301. In this state, the whole double cylindrical magnet is moved coaxially with the compression piston 18 by the piston shaft 19. This enables an increase or reduction in the magnitude of a magnetic field that is applied to the heat storage device 15.
  • Further, a weak magnetic field can be generated in the hollow portion of the inner cylindrical magnet 301 by making the direction of the magnetic field 305 generated in the hollow portion by the inner cylindrical magnet 301, opposite to the direction of the magnetic field 306 generated in the hollow portion by the outer cylindrical magnet 302 so that the magnetic fields 305 and 306 cancel each other, as shown in FIG. 4B. With this double cylindrical magnet, the magnitude of the magnetic field for the heat storage device 15 can be increased or reduced by rotating one of the inner cylindrical magnet 301 and outer cylindrical magnet 302 in conjunction with the reciprocating motion of the piston shaft 19 to establish the conditions shown in FIG. 4A or 4B.
  • FIGS. 5A to 5D are diagrams illustrating the operation of the refrigerator configured as described above. In FIGS. 5A to 5D, the same components as those in FIG. 2 are denoted by the same reference numerals.
  • A cylinder main body 31 shown in FIGS. 5A to 5D comprises the above compression cylinder 12 and expansion cylinder 13. The cylinder main body 31 is filled with a refrigerant. The heat storage device 15, higher-temperature heat exchanger 17, and lower-temperature heat exchanger 23 are arranged inside the cylinder main body 31; the heat storage device 15 is provided with the magnetic material 16, which has its temperature changed in response to an increase or decrease in the magnitude of a magnetic field. The compression piston 18 is placed in one of the openings of the cylinder main body 31. The expansion cylinder 24 is placed in the other opening. The mechanism 30 is placed outside the cylinder main body 31 to increase and reduce the magnitude of a magnetic field that is applied to the periphery of the heat storage device 15. The magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 30 is connected to piston shaft 19 of the compression piston 18 via the support arm 29. The magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 8 can reciprocate in conjunction with the compression piston 18.
  • In this refrigerator, first, as shown in FIG. 5A, the compression piston 18 is moved in the direction A, that is, from the left to right in FIG. 5A, to compress the refrigerant in the cylinder main body 31 (compression cylinder 12). At this time, actuation of the higher-temperature heat exchanger 17 radiates heat generated from the refrigerant by compression, in the direction of arrow B in FIG. 5A to the exterior of the apparatus via the higher-temperature heat exchanger 17. An isothermal refrigerant compressing process is thus executed. Simultaneously with the compression of the refrigerant, the magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 30, connected to the piston shaft 19, moves, as the compression piston 18 moves, to a position where it applies a magnetic field to the heat storage device 15. In this case, the heat storage device 15 has its temperature raised. This is because the heat storage device 15 is composed of the magnetic material 16 having its temperature raised (heat generation) in response to an increase in the magnitude of a magnetic field and lowered (heat absorption) in response to a decrease in the magnitude of the magnetic field. At this time, the higher-temperature heat exchanger 17 is in operation. Thus, heat generated from the heat storage device 15 can also be radiated in the direction of arrow B in FIG. 5A to the exterior of the apparatus via the higher-temperature heat exchanger 17. In other words, during the refrigerant compressing process shown in FIG. 5A, not only heat from the refrigerant but also heat generated from the magnetic material 16 can be radiated to the exterior of the apparatus via the higher-temperature heat exchanger 17.
  • Then, as shown in FIG. 5B, with the volume of the cylinder main body 31 between the compression piston 18 and the expansion piston 24 remaining fixed, the compression piston 18 and expansion piston 24 are simultaneously moved rightward in FIG. 5B to move the refrigerant rightward in the cylinder main body 31.
  • Then, as shown in FIG. 5C, the expansion piston 7 is moved in a direction C, i.e., from the right to left in FIG. 5C, to expand the refrigerant in the cylinder main body 31 (expansion cylinder 13). At this time, actuation of the lower-temperature heat exchanger 23 allows the refrigerant cooled by expansion to absorb external heat in the direction of arrow D in FIG. 5C via the lower-temperature heat exchanger 23. An isothermal refrigerant expansion process is thus executed.
  • Then, as shown in FIG. 5D, with the volume of the cylinder main body 31 between the compression piston 18 and the expansion piston 24 remaining fixed, the compression piston 18 and expansion piston 24 are moved leftward to move the refrigerant leftward in the cylinder main body 31. At this time, the magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 30, connected to the piston shaft 19, moves away from the heat storage device 15 as the compression piston 18 moves. This removes the magnetic field for the heat storage device 15. The heat storage device 15 is composed of a positive magnetic material that has its temperature (heat absorption) lowered in response to a decrease in the magnitude of a magnetic field. The temperature of the heat storage device 15 thus lowers. At this time, the lower-temperature heat exchanger 23 is in operation. Consequently, external heat can be absorbed via the lower-temperature heat exchanger 23. In other words, during the refrigerant expansion process shown in FIG. 5D, heat is absorbed not only by the refrigerant but also by the magnetic material 16. Under these conditions, external heat can be absorbed via the lower-temperature heat exchanger 23.
  • The process shown in FIGS. 5A to 5D is repeated as described above to repeatedly execute the four basic processes, isothermal compression, isovolumetric cooling, isothermal expansion, and isovolumetric heating. The Stirling refrigerating cycle is thus implemented.
  • Therefore, the above embodiment can produce effects similar to those of the first embodiment. Moreover, the compression piston 18, expansion piston 24, and magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 30 perform the series of operations using the driving motor 22 as a driving source. This enables the Stirling refrigerating cycle to be executed both automatically and stably. Furthermore, the rotation speed of the driving motor can be increased to achieve high-speed refrigeration.
  • The magnetic material 16 constituting the heat storage device 15 is a porous member containing a large number of voids or a bulk material containing communication holes which consist of small holes and which communicate with the exterior. The refrigerant can thus pass through the interior of the magnetic material 16. This makes it possible to increase the contact area between the magnetic material 16 and the refrigerant as well as the rate of heat transfer between the magnetic material 16 and the refrigerant. The magnetic material 16 and the refrigerant can thus efficiently exchange heat with each other to further improve the heat generating and absorbing effects of the heat storage device 15.
  • Moreover, a strong magnetic field required to operate the magnetic material 16 can be easily obtained by using a cylindrical magnet called a Halbach magnet as the magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 30 and composed of the outer cylindrical magnet 302 and the inner cylindrical magnet 301, located in the hollow portion.
  • THIRD EMBODIMENT
  • FIGS. 6A to 6D show the general structure of another example of a refrigerator using a Stirling refrigerating cycle according to the present invention. In FIGS. 6A to 6D, the same components as those in FIG. 5 are denoted by the same reference numerals.
  • In the refrigerator shown in FIGS. 6A to 6D, a cool storage section 32, the higher-temperature heat exchanger 17, and the lower-temperature heat exchanger 23 are arranged inside the cylinder main body 31. The compression piston 18 is placed in one of the openings of the cylinder main body 31. The expansion cylinder 24 is placed in the other opening. The magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 30 is placed outside the cylinder main body 31 along the circumference of the heat storage device 32. The magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 30 is connected to piston shaft 19 of the compression piston 18 via the support arm 29. The magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 30 can reciprocate in conjunction with the compression piston 18.
  • The cool storage section 32 includes a heat storage device 321 composed of a positive magnetic material 331 which has its temperature raised in response to an increase in the magnitude of the magnetic field and which has its temperature lowered in response to a decrease in the magnitude of the magnetic field, and a storage device 322 composed of a negative magnetic material 332 which has its temperature lowered in response to an increase in the magnitude of the magnetic field and which has its temperature raised in response to a decrease in the magnitude of the magnetic field. The positive magnetic material 331 is what is called a ferromagnetic substance or a meta-magnetic substance which is in a paramagnetic state (magnetic spins are disordered) with no magnetic field applied to the material and which is brought to a ferromagnetic state (magnetic spins are ordered) when a magnetic field is applied to the material (a substance that exhibits a order-disorder transition from the ferromagnetic state to paramagnetic state in response to application and removal of a magnetic field). The negative magnetic material 332 exhibits different ordered states depending on whether or not a magnetic field is applied and exhibits an order-order transition between the two ordered states in response to application and removal of a magnetic field; the degree of order is higher (the degree of freedom of the system is lower) when no magnetic field is applied to the segments. Specific examples of the positive magnetic material 331 include ferromagnetic substances such as Gd and Gd-based alloys, that is, Gd-Y, Gd-Dy, Gd-Er, and Gd-Ho alloys, and meta-magnetic substances and ferromagnetic substances based on La(Fe, Si) 13 or La(Fe, Al) 13. Specific examples of the negative magnetic material 332 include substances such as a FeRH alloy which exhibit an order-order transition from the ferromagnetic state to an antiferromagnetic state in response to application and removal of a magnetic field. With the FeRh alloy, the magnitude of magnetic moment of Rh changes significantly between the two states owing to a difference in the polarization of Rh. This changes the entropy of an electron system.
  • In this refrigerator, first, as shown in FIG. 6A, the compression piston 18 is moved in the direction A in this figure, that is, from the left to right of the figure, to compress the refrigerant in the cylinder main body 31 (compression cylinder 12). At this time, actuation of the higher-temperature heat exchanger 17 radiates heat generated from the refrigerant by compression, in the direction of arrow B in FIG. 6A to the exterior of the apparatus via the higher-temperature heat exchanger 17. An isothermal refrigerant compressing process is thus executed. Simultaneously with the compression of the refrigerant, the magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 30, connected to the piston shaft 19, moves, as the compression piston 18 moves, to a position where it applies a magnetic field to the heat storage device 321. The heat storage device 321 has its temperature raised. This is because the heat storage device 321 is composed of the magnetic material 331 having its temperature raised (heat generation) in response to an increase in the magnitude of a magnetic field and lowered (heat absorption) in response to a decrease in the magnitude of the magnetic field. At this time, the higher-temperature heat exchanger 17 is in operation. Thus, heat generated from the heat storage device 321 can also be radiated in the direction of arrow B in FIG. 6A to the exterior of the apparatus via the higher-temperature heat exchanger 17. On the other hands, the magnetic field from the magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 30 is removed from the cools storage device 322. The cools storage device 322 thus has its temperature raised. This is because the heat storage device 322 is composed of the negative magnetic material 332 having its temperature raised (heat generation) in response to removal of the magnetic field. Since the higher-temperature heat exchanger 17 is in operation, heat from the heat storage device 322 can also be radiated to the exterior of the apparatus via the higher-temperature heat exchanger 17. Thus, during the refrigerant compressing process shown in FIG. 6A, not only heat from the refrigerant but also heat generated from the magnetic materials 331 and 332 can be radiated to the exterior of the apparatus via the higher-temperature heat exchanger 17. More heat can thus be radiated.
  • Then, in FIG. 6B, with the volume of the cylinder main body 31 between the compression piston 18 and the expansion piston 24 remaining fixed, the compression piston 18 and expansion piston 24 are simultaneously moved rightward in FIG. 6B to move the refrigerant rightward in the cylinder main body 31.
  • Then, as shown in FIG. 6C, the expansion piston 7 is moved in the direction C in this figure, from the right to left of the figure, to expand the refrigerant in the cylinder main body 31 (expansion cylinder 13). At this time, actuation of the lower-temperature heat exchanger 23 allows the refrigerant cooled by expansion to absorb external heat in the direction of arrow D in FIG. 6C via the lower-temperature heat exchanger 23. An isothermal refrigerant expansion process is thus executed.
  • Then, as shown in FIG. 6D, with the volume of the cylinder main body 31 between the compression piston 18 and the expansion piston 24 remaining fixed, the compression piston 18 and expansion piston 24 are moved leftward to move the refrigerant leftward in the cylinder main body 31. At this time, the magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 30, connected to the piston shaft 19, moves 15, as the compression piston 18 moves, to a position where it applies a magnetic field to the heat storage device 322. This removes the magnetic field for the heat storage device 321 and now applies it to the heat storage device 322. The heat storage device 321 is composed of the positive magnetic material 331 that has its temperature lowered (heat absorption) in response to a decrease in the magnitude of the magnetic field. The temperature of the heat storage device 321 thus lowers. However, at this time, the lower-temperature heat exchanger 23 is in operation. Consequently, external heat can be absorbed via the lower-temperature heat exchanger 23. The heat storage device 322, to which the magnetic field is applied, is composed of the negative magnetic material 332 that has its temperature lowered (heat absorption) in response to application of a magnetic field. The temperature of the heat storage device 322 thus lowers. However, since the lower-temperature heat exchanger 23 is in operation, external heat can be absorbed via the lower-temperature heat exchanger 23. In other words, during the process shown in FIG. 6D, heat is absorbed not only by the refrigerant but also by the magnetic materials 331 and 332. More heat can thus be absorbed.
  • The process shown in FIGS. 6A to 6D is repeated as described above to repeatedly execute the four basic processes, isothermal compression, isovolumetric cooling, isothermal expansion, and isovolumetric heating. The Stirling refrigerating cycle is thus implemented.
  • Therefore, the above embodiment can produce effects similar to those of the second embodiment. Moreover, the cool storage section 32 includes the heat storage device 321 composed of the positive magnetic material 331 which has its temperature raised in response to an increase in the magnitude of a magnetic field and which has its temperature lowered in response to a decrease in the magnitude of the magnetic field, and the storage device 322 composed of the negative magnetic material 332 which has its temperature lowered in response to an increase in the magnitude of the magnetic field and which has its temperature raised in response to a decrease in the magnitude of the magnetic field. When heat is radiated from the refrigerant, heat can also be radiated from the magnetic materials 331 and 332. When the refrigerant absorbs heat, the magnetic materials 331 and 332 can also absorb heat. This enables more heat to be radiated and absorbed to further improve the heat exchanging efficiency of the refrigerating cycle.
  • FOURTH EMBODIMENT
  • In the description of the above embodiments, the refrigerator uses the Stirling refrigerating cycle having the four basic processes, isothermal compression, isovolumetric cooling, isothermal expansion, and isovolumetric heating. However, the fourth embodiment shows a refrigerator to which a refrigerating cycle of two basic processes, isothermal compression and isothermal expansion is applied.
  • FIG. 7 three-dimensionally shows an embodiment of this refrigerator.
  • In the figure, reference numeral 41 denotes a cylindrical casing in which a cylindrical cylinder main body 42 is placed. The cylinder main body 42 is open at one end and is closed at the other end. The cylinder main body 42 is filled with a gas refrigerant, for example, helium or nitrogen.
  • A heat storage device 43 is placed inside the cylinder main body 42 closer to the closed end. The heat storage device 43 is composed of a magnetic material 44 having its temperature changed in response to an increase or decrease in the magnitude of a magnetic field. In this embodiment, the magnetic material 44 is a positive one, for example, a GD-based material, which has its temperature raised (heat generation) in response to an increase in the magnitude of the magnetic field, while having its temperature lowered (heat absorption) in response to a decrease in the magnitude of the magnetic field. As the magnetic material 44, a porous member or a bulk material with a plurality of communication holes for external communication is used as described in FIGS. 3A and 3B.
  • A higher-temperature heat exchanger 45 and a lower-temperature heat exchanger 46 are arranged on the respective sides of the heat storage device 43. In this case, the higher-temperature heat exchanger 45 is placed closer to the opening of the cylinder main body 42. The higher-temperature heat exchanger 45 radiates heat from a refrigerant and the heat storage device 43. The lower-temperature heat exchanger 46 is placed closer to the closed end of the cylinder main body 42. The lower-temperature heat exchanger 46 absorbs external heat on the basis of heat absorption by the refrigerant and heat storage device 43.
  • A piston 47 is provided in the cylinder main body 42. The piston 47 is inserted into the cylinder main body 42 through its opening to compress the refrigerant inside the cylinder main body 42. A piston shaft 48 is connected to the piston 42. A connecting bar 49 is connected to the piston shaft 48 and to a flywheel 50 at a position away from its rotating center. The connecting bar 49 thus constitutes a crank mechanism that converts a rotating motion of the flywheel 50 into a reciprocating motion to reciprocate the piston shaft 48 in the direction of arrow H in FIG. 48. The flywheel 50 has its rotating center connected to a rotating shaft 52 of a driving motor 51. The flywheel 50 is rotated at a predetermined speed.
  • A disk-like support plate 53 is integrally provided on the piston shaft 47. A magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 55 is provided on the support plate 53 via a support arm 54. The magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 55 is cylindrical with the cylinder main body 42 located in its hollow portion. The piston shaft 48 reciprocates in the direction of arrow H to allow the magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 30 to increase or reduce the magnitude of a magnetic field that is applied to the heat storage device 43. Also in this case, the magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 30 may be a double cylindrical magnet called a Halbach magnet, described with reference to FIGS. 4A and 4B.
  • FIGS. 8A and 8B are diagrams illustrating the operation of the refrigerator configured as described above. In FIGS. 8A and 8B, the same components as those in FIG. 7 are denoted by the same reference numerals.
  • In the refrigerator shown in FIGS. 8A and 8B, the cylinder main body 42 is filled with a refrigerant. The heat storage device 43, higher-temperature heat exchanger 45, and lower-temperature heat exchanger 46 are arranged inside the cylinder main body 42; the heat storage device 43 is composed of the magnetic material 44, which has its temperature changed in response to an increase or decrease in the magnitude of a magnetic field. The piston 47 is placed in the opening of the cylinder main body 42. The magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 55 is placed outside the cylinder main body 42 around the heat storage device 43. The magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 55 is connected to the piston shaft 48 of the piston 47 via the support arm 54. The magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 55 can reciprocate in conjunction with the piston 47.
  • In this refrigerator, first, as shown in FIG. 8A, the piston 47 is moved in direction A, that is, from the left to right in FIG. 8A, to compress the refrigerant in the cylinder main body 42. At this time, actuation of the higher-temperature heat exchanger 45 radiates heat generated from the refrigerant by compression, in the direction of arrow B in FIG. 8A to the exterior of the apparatus via the higher-temperature heat exchanger 45. An isothermal refrigerant compressing process is thus executed. Simultaneously with the compression of the refrigerant, the magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 55, connected to the piston shaft 48, moves, as the piston 47 moves, to a position where it applies a magnetic field to the heat storage device 43. In this case, the heat storage device 43 has its temperature raised. This is because the heat storage device 43 is composed of the positive magnetic material 44 having its temperature raised (heat generation) in response to an increase in the magnitude of a magnetic field and lowered (heat absorption) in response to a decrease in the magnitude of the magnetic field. At this time, the higher-temperature heat exchanger 45 is in operation. Thus, heat generated from the heat storage device 43 can also be radiated in the direction of arrow B in FIG. 8A to the exterior of the apparatus via the higher-temperature heat exchanger 45. In other words, during the refrigerant compressing process shown in FIG. 8A, not only heat from the refrigerant but also heat generated from the magnetic material 44 can be radiated to the exterior of the apparatus via the higher-temperature heat exchanger 45.
  • Then, as shown in FIG. 8B, the piston 47 is moved in a direction C in this figure, that is, from the right to left of the figure, to expand the refrigerant in the cylinder main body 42. At this time, actuation of the lower-temperature heat exchanger 46 allows the refrigerant cooled by expansion to absorb external heat in the direction of arrow D in FIG. 8B via the lower-temperature heat exchanger 46. An isothermal refrigerant expansion process is thus executed. At the same time, the magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 55, connected to the piston shaft 48, moves, as the piston 47 moves, to a position where it removes the magnetic field from the heat storage device 43. The heat storage device 43 has its temperature raised. This is because the heat storage device 43 is composed of the positive magnetic material 44 having its temperature raised (heat generation) in response to an increase in the magnitude of a magnetic field and lowered (heat absorption) in response to a decrease in the magnitude of the magnetic field. At this time, the lower-temperature heat exchanger 46 is in operation. This enables external heat to be absorbed via the lower-temperature heat exchanger 46. In other words, the refrigerant expansion process shown in FIG. 8B excites not only heat absorption by the refrigerant but also heat absorption by the magnetic material 44. In this state, external heat can be absorbed via the lower-temperature heat exchanger 46.
  • The process shown in FIGS. 8A and 8B is similarly repeated to enable the implementation of a refrigerating cycle of two basic processes, isothermal compression and isothermal expansion; heat is radiated to the exterior via the higher-temperature heat exchanger 45, and external heat is absorbed via the lower-temperature heat exchanger 46.
  • Therefore, also with the refrigerating cycle of two basic processes, isothermal compression and isothermal expansion, when the refrigerant generates heat, the magnetic material 44 is also allowed to radiate heat. Further, when the refrigerant absorbs heat, the magnetic material 44 is also allowed to absorb heat. This enables a refrigerating cycle with an increased heat exchange efficiency to be implemented. Such a refrigerating cycle can be implemented using the cylinder main body 42 and piston 47. This makes it possible to simplify the entire configuration of the apparatus to reduce costs.
  • FIFTH EMBODIMENT
  • FIGS. 9A and 9B show the general configuration of another exemplary refrigerator that uses a refrigerating cycle of two basic processes, isothermal compression and isothermal expansion. In FIGS. 9A and 9B, the same components as those in FIGS. 8A and 8B are denoted by the same reference numerals.
  • In the refrigerator shown in FIGS. 9A and 9B, a cools storage section 56 and the higher-temperature heat exchanger 45 and lower-temperature heat exchanger 46 are arranged inside the cylinder main body. The piston 47 is placed in the opening of the cylinder main body 42. The magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 55 is placed outside the cylinder main body 42 along the periphery of the heat storage device 56. The magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 55 is connected to the piston shaft 48 of the piston 47 via the support arm 54. The magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 55 can reciprocate in conjunction with the piston 47.
  • The cool storage section 56 has a heat storage device 431 and a heat storage device 432 arranged in parallel; the heat storage device 431 is composed of a positive magnetic material 441 having its temperature raised in response to an increase in the magnitude of a magnetic field, while having its temperature lowered in response to a decrease in the magnitude of the magnetic field, and the heat storage device 432 is composed of a negative magnetic material 442 having its temperature lowered in response to an increase in the magnitude of a magnetic field, while having its temperature raised in response to a decrease in the magnitude of the magnetic field. The positive magnetic material 441 and negative magnetic material 442 are similar to those described in the third embodiment.
  • In this configuration, first, as shown in FIG. 9A, the piston 47 is moved in a direction A, that is, from the left to right in FIG. 9A, to compress the refrigerant in the cylinder main body 42. At this time, actuation of the higher-temperature heat exchanger 45 radiates heat generated from the refrigerant by compression, in the direction of arrow B in FIG. 9A to the exterior of the apparatus via the higher-temperature heat exchanger 45. An isothermal refrigerant compressing process is thus executed. Simultaneously with the compression of the refrigerant, the magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 55, connected to the piston shaft 48, moves, as the piston 47 moves, to a position where it applies a magnetic field to the heat storage device 431. In this case, the heat storage device 431 has its temperature raised. This is because the heat storage device 431 is composed of the positive magnetic material 441 having its temperature raised (heat generation) in response to an increase in the magnitude of a magnetic field and lowered (heat absorption) in response to a decrease in the magnitude of the magnetic field. At this time, the higher-temperature heat exchanger 45 is in operation. Thus, heat generated from the heat storage device 431 can also be radiated in the direction of arrow B in FIG. 8A to the exterior of the apparatus via the higher-temperature heat exchanger 45. On the other hand, the magnetic field from the magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 55 has been removed from the heat storage device 432. In this case, the heat storage device 432 has its temperature raised. This is because the heat storage device 432 is composed of the negative magnetic material 442 that has its temperature raised (heat generation) in response to removal of the magnetic field. Since the higher-temperature heat exchanger 45 is in operation, heat from the heat storage device 432 can be radiated to the exterior of the apparatus via the higher-temperature heat exchanger 45. Thus, during the refrigerant compressing process shown in FIG. 9A, not only heat from the refrigerant but also heat generated from the magnetic materials 441 and 442 can be radiated to the exterior of the apparatus via the higher-temperature heat exchanger 17. Therefore, more heat can be radiated.
  • Then, as shown in FIG. 9B, the piston 47 is moved in a direction C, that is, from the right to left in FIG. 9B, to expand the refrigerant in the cylinder main body 42. At this time, actuation of the lower-temperature heat exchanger 46 allows the refrigerant cooled by expansion to absorb external heat in the direction of arrow D in FIG. 8B via the lower-temperature heat exchanger 46. An isothermal refrigerant expansion process is thus executed. At the same time, the magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 55, connected to the piston shaft 48, moves, as the piston 47 moves, to a position where it applies a magnetic field to the heat storage device 432. This removes the magnetic field from the heat storage device 431, while a magnetic field is applied to the heat storage device 432. The heat storage device 431 has its temperature lowered. This is because the heat storage device 431 is composed of the positive magnetic material 441 that has its temperature lowered (heat absorption) in response to a decrease in the magnitude of the magnetic field. However, since the lower-temperature heat exchanger 46 is in operation, external heat can be absorbed via the lower-temperature heat exchanger 46. At the same time, the heat storage device 432 has its temperature lowered. This is because the heat storage device 432 is composed of the negative magnetic material 442 that has its temperature lowered (heat absorption) in response to application of a magnetic field. However, since the lower-temperature heat exchanger 46 is in operation, external heat can be absorbed via the lower-temperature heat exchanger 46. During the refrigerant expanding process shown in FIG. 9B, external heat can be absorbed via the lower-temperature heat exchanger 46 on the basis of not only heat absorption by the refrigerant but also heat absorption resulting from a decrease in the temperature of the magnetic materials 441 and 442. Therefore, more heat can be absorbed.
  • Similar repetition of the process shown in FIGS. 9A and 9B enables the implementation of a refrigerating cycle of two basic processes, isothermal compression and isothermal expansion; external heat is absorbed via the lower-temperature heat exchanger 46, and heat is radiated to the exterior via the higher-temperature heat exchanger 45.
  • This also makes it possible to exert effects similar to those of the fourth embodiment. Further, when the refrigerant radiates heat, the magnetic materials 441 and 442 are also allowed to radiate heat. When the refrigerant absorbs heat, the magnetic materials 441 and 442 are also allowed to absorb heat. This enables more heat to be radiated and absorbed, further increasing the heat exchange efficiency of the refrigerating cycle.
  • SIXTH EMBODIMENT
  • In the above embodiments, the magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism is moved to enable an increase or reduction in the magnitude of a magnetic field for the heat storage device. However, a sixth embodiment keeps the magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism stationary while enabling an increase or reduction in the magnitude of a magnetic field for the heat storage device.
  • FIG. 10 shows the general configuration of the sixth embodiment. The same components as those in FIG. 1 are denoted by the same reference numerals and their description is omitted.
  • In this case, the compression piston 6, expansion piston 7, heat storage device 2, higher-temperature heat exchanger 4, and lower-temperature heat exchanger 5 are arranged in the cylinder 1 filled with a refrigerant; the heat storage device 2 is composed of the magnetic material that has its temperature changed in response to an increase or decrease in the magnitude of a magnetic field.
  • A magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 61 is placed outside the cylinder 1 in association with the heat storage device 2. As shown in FIG. 11A, the magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 61 is composed of a pair of permanent magnets 62 a and 62 b and a pair of yokes 63 a and 63 b. In this case, the permanent magnets 62 a and 52 b are arranged so that the cylinder 1 (heat storage device 2) is sandwiched between the magnets 62 a and 62 b. The yokes 63 a and 63 b can open and close a magnetic path between the permanent magnets 62 a and 62 b. As shown in FIG. 11A, with the magnetic path between the permanent magnets 62 a and 62 b closed, the magnitude of a magnetic field for the heat storage device is increased. As shown in FIG. 11B, with the magnetic path between the permanent magnets 62 a and 62 b open, the magnitude of the magnetic field for the heat storage device is reduced.
  • This refrigerator can increase or reduce the magnitude of a magnetic field for the heat storage device by moving the yokes 63 a and 63 b with the permanent magnets 62 a and 62 b remaining stationary to open or close the magnetic path between the permanent magnets 62 a and 62 b. Consequently, effects similar to those of the first embodiment can be produced by repeatedly increasing or reducing the magnitude of the magnetic field in association with the isothermal compression, isovolumetric cooling, isothermal expansion, and isovolumetric heating processes, described in the first embodiment.
  • The magnetic field increasing and reducing mechanism 61 configured as described above is also applicable to the above second to fifth embodiments.
  • In the above embodiments, the magnetic material constituting the heat storage devices in the above embodiments consists of a uniform component with a fixed operating temperature. However, for example, the heat storage devices may each be composed of different components such that the operating temperature sequentially decreases from the higher-temperature heat exchanger toward the lower-temperature heat exchanger. Such a magnetic material makes it possible to emphasize the different operations of the higher- and lower-temperature heat exchangers, that is, heat generation and heat absorption. This enables more efficient heat radiation and absorption. Further, the higher-temperature heat exchanger and lower-temperature heat exchangers in the above embodiments may be composed of a magnetic material that has its temperature changed in response to an increase or decrease in the magnitude of a magnetic field. Moreover, the above embodiments all relate to the refrigerator. However, the present invention is of course applicable to a heat pump that transfers heat from a lower temperature side to a higher temperature side.
  • As described above, the present invention can provide a heat transporting apparatus which has good heat transporting capability and which enables an increase in heat exchange efficiency.
  • Additional advantages and modifications will readily occur to those skilled in the art. Therefore, the invention in its broader aspects is not limited to the specific details and representative embodiments shown and described herein. Accordingly, various modifications may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the general inventive concept as defined by the appended claims and their equivalents.

Claims (23)

1. A heat transporting apparatus, comprising:
a container filled with a refrigerant;
an operation unit which compresses the refrigerant to produce heat and expands the refrigerant to absorb heat in the container, alternately;
a generating unit configured to generate a magnetic field which is increased and decreased, alternately;
a thermal accumulator received in the container, to which the magnetic field is applied from the generating unit, and which produces heat depending on one of the increasing and decreasing of the magnetic field at the time of compression of the refrigerant and absorbs heat depending on the other of the increasing and decreasing of the magnetic field at the time of expansion of the refrigerant; and
first and second heat transfer units, the first heat transfer unit transferring the heat produced in the refrigerant and the thermal accumulator to the outside of the apparatus, and the second heat transfer unit transferring external heat to the refrigerant and the magnetic unit.
2. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the thermal accumulator includes a positive magnetic material which produces the heat depending on the increasing of the magnetic field and which absorbs the heat depending on the decreasing of the magnetic field.
3. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the thermal accumulator includes a negative magnetic material which produces the heat depending on the decreasing of the magnetic field and which absorbs the heat depending on the increasing of the magnetic field.
4. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the thermal accumulator includes first and second magnetic segments arranged in series with a gap in the container, the first magnetic segment includes a positive magnetic material which produces the heat depending on the increasing of the magnetic field and which absorbs the heat depending on the decreasing of the magnetic field, and the second magnetic segment includes a negative magnetic material which produces the heat depending on the decreasing of the magnetic field and which absorbs the heat depending on the increasing of the magnetic field.
5. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the generating unit includes a magnet for generating the magnetic field and a mechanism configured to move the magnet along the container to apply the magnetic field to the magnetic unit and remove the magnetic field from the magnetic unit, alternately, in accordance with the compression and expansion of the refrigerant.
6. A heat transporting apparatus comprising:
a cylindrical container provided with compression and expansion chambers communicating with each other and filled with a refrigerant;
a compression piston received in the cylindrical container, which compresses the refrigerant in the expansion chamber and an expansion piston which expands the refrigerant in the expansion chamber;
a generating unit configured to generate a magnetic field which is increased and decreased, alternately;
a thermal accumulator received in the cylindrical container, to which the magnetic field is applied, and which produces heat depending on one of the increasing and decreasing of the magnetic field at the time of compression of the refrigerant and absorbs heat depending on the other of the increasing and decreasing of the magnetic field at the time of expansion of the refrigerant; and
first and second heat transfer units, the first heat transfer unit transferring the heat produced in the refrigerant and the magnetic unit to the outside of the apparatus, and the second heat transfer unit transferring external heat to the refrigerant and the magnetic unit.
7. The apparatus according to claim 6, wherein the thermal accumulator includes a positive magnetic material which produces the heat depending on the increasing of the magnetic field and which absorbs the heat depending on the decreasing of the magnetic field.
8. The apparatus according to claim 6, wherein the thermal accumulator includes a negative magnetic material which produces the heat depending on the decreasing of the magnetic field and which absorbs the heat depending on the increasing of the magnetic field.
9. The apparatus according to claim 6, wherein the thermal accumulator includes first and second magnetic segments arranged in series with a gap in the container, the first magnetic segment includes a positive magnetic material which produces the heat depending on the increasing of the magnetic field and which absorbs the heat depending on the decreasing of the magnetic field, and the second magnetic segment includes a negative magnetic material which produces the heat depending on the decreasing of the magnetic field and which absorbs the heat depending on the increasing of the magnetic field.
10. The apparatus according to claim 6, wherein the generating unit includes a magnet for generating the magnetic field and a mechanism configured to move the magnet along the container to apply the magnetic field to the thermal accumulator and remove the magnetic field from the thermal accumulator, alternately, in accordance with the compression and expansion of the refrigerant.
11. The apparatus according to claim 6, wherein the generating unit includes an electric magnet which is alternatively energized and de-energized to increase and decrease the magnetic field.
12. The apparatus according to claim 6, wherein the generating unit includes a Halbach magnet.
13. A heat transporting apparatus comprising:
a cylindrical container filled with a refrigerant;
pistons received in the cylindrical container, which compress and expand the refrigerant;
a generating unit configured to generate a magnetic field which is increased and decreased, alternately;
a thermal accumulator received in the cylindrical container, to which the magnetic field is applied, and which produces heat depending on one of the increasing and decreasing of the magnetic field at the time of compression of the refrigerant and absorbs heat depending on the other of the increasing and decreasing of the magnetic field at the time of expansion of the refrigerant; and
first and second heat transfer units, the first heat transfer unit transferring the heat produced in the refrigerant and the thermal accumulator to the outside of the apparatus, and the second heat transfer unit transferring external heat to the refrigerant and the thermal accumulator.
14. The apparatus according to claim 13, wherein the thermal accumulator includes a positive magnetic material which produces the heat depending on the increasing of the magnetic field and which absorbs the heat depending on the decreasing of the magnetic field.
15. The apparatus according to claim 13, wherein the thermal accumulator includes a negative magnetic material which produces the heat depending on the decreasing of the magnetic field and which absorbs the heat depending on the increasing of the magnetic field.
16. The apparatus according to claim 13, wherein the thermal accumulator includes first and second magnetic segments arranged in series with a gap in the container, the first magnetic segment includes a positive magnetic material which produces the heat depending on the increasing of the magnetic field and which absorbs the heat depending on the decreasing of the magnetic field, and the second magnetic segment includes a negative magnetic material which produces the heat depending on the decreasing of the magnetic field and which absorbs the heat depending on the increasing of the magnetic field.
17. The apparatus according to claim 13, wherein the generating unit includes a magnet for generating the magnetic field and a mechanism configured to move the magnet along the container to apply the magnetic field to the magnetic unit and remove the magnetic field from the magnetic unit, alternately, in accordance with the compression and expansion of the refrigerant.
18. The apparatus according to claim 13, wherein the generating unit includes an electric magnet which is alternatively energized and de-energized to increase and decrease the magnetic field.
19. The apparatus according to claim 13, wherein the generating unit includes a Halbach magnet.
20. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the thermal accumulator includes a magnetic material magnetic unit is made of a porous member or a bulk having communication holes.
21. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the thermal accumulator comprises a magnetic material formed of different components such that operating temperature sequentially decreases from a higher temperature side toward a lower temperature side in the container.
22. A refrigerator provided with the heat transporting apparatus according to claim 1.
23. A heat pump provided with the heat transporting apparatus according to claim 1.
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