High performance of carbon nanotube elastocaloric refrigerators over a large temperature span

TNY Silva and AF Fonseca, PHYSICAL REVIEW B, 106, 165413 (2022).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.106.165413

Compression of greenhouse gases still dominates the market of refrigeration devices. Although well es-tablished and efficient, this technology is neither safe for the environment nor able to be scaled down to nanoscale. Solid-state cooling technologies are being developed to overcome these limitations, including studies at nanoscale. Among them, the so-called elastocaloric effect (eC) consists of the thermal response AT of a material under strain deformation. In this work, fully atomistic molecular dynamics simulations of the eC in carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are presented over a large temperature span. The efficiency of the CNTs as solid refrigerators is investigated by simulating their eC in a model of refrigerator machine running under Otto -like thermodynamic cycles (two adiabatic expansion/contraction plus two isostrain heat exchange processes) operating at temperatures TO ranging 300-2000 K. The coefficient of performance (COP), defined as the ratio of heat removed from the cold region to the total work performed by the system per thermodynamic cycle, is calculated for each value of TO. Our results show a nonlinear dependence of AT on TO, reaching a minimum value of about 30 K for TO between 500 and 600 K, then growing and converging to a linear dependence on TO for large temperatures. The COP of CNTs is shown to remain about the same and approximately equal to 8. These results are shown to be weakly depend on CNT diameter and chirality but not on length. The isothermal entropy change of the CNTs due to the eC is also estimated and shown to depend nonlinearly on TO values. These results predict that CNTs can be considered versatile nanoscale solid refrigerators able to efficiently work over a large temperature span.

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