Skip to Content

Carry-on Cooler

Soldiers, firefighters and others who risk exposure to hazardous materials must wear hot, heavy protective clothing for prolonged periods. Research at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNL) in Richland, Wash., is leading to a small, lightweight heat pump that could be worn inside such garments to provide hours of cooling relief.

Heat pumps use the condensation-evaporation cycle of a working fluid to move heat from one place to another. The PNL device mechanically constrains the fluid to microchannels in a film only about 100 micrometers thick-10 times thinner than in conventional heat pumps. The thin film maximizes the surface-to-volume ratio and hence the efficiency of heat transfer between the fluid and the environment, says PNL researcher Michele Friedrich. Based on tests of the individual components, Friedrich believes it will be possible to build a prototype of a portable heat pump weighing only about 5 kilograms.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2024

Every year, we look for promising technologies poised to have a real impact on the world. Here are the advances that we think matter most right now.

Scientists are finding signals of long covid in blood. They could lead to new treatments.

Faults in a certain part of the immune system might be at the root of some long covid cases, new research suggests.

AI for everything: 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2024

Generative AI tools like ChatGPT reached mass adoption in record time, and reset the course of an entire industry.

What’s next for AI in 2024

Our writers look at the four hot trends to watch out for this year

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.