How does a refrigerator work? | How the fridge works

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Introduction to How Refrigerators Work:

  1. In the kitchen of nearly every home in America there is a refrigerator. Every 15 minutes or so you hear the motor turn on, and it magically keeps things cold. Without refrigeration, we’d be throwing out our leftovers instead of saving them for another meal.

  2. The refrigerator is one of those miracles of modern living that totally changes life. Prior to refrigeration, the only way to preserve meat was to salt it, and iced beverages in the summer were a real luxury.

  3. In this article, you’ll find out how your refrigerator performs its magic.

Purpose of Refrigeration:

  1. The fundamental reason for having a refrigerator is to keep food cold. Cold temperatures help food stay fresh longer. The basic idea behind refrigeration is to slow down the activity of bacteria (which all food contains) so that it takes longer for the bacteria to spoil the food.

  2. For example, bacteria will spoil milk in two or three hours if the milk is left out on the kitchen counter at room temperature. However, by reducing the temperature of the milk, it will stay fresh for a week or two — the cold temperature inside the refrigerator decreases the activity of the bacteria that much. By freezing the milk you can stop the bacteria altogether, and the milk can last for months.

  3. Refrigeration and freezing are two of the most common forms of food preservation used today.

Parts of a Refrigerator:

The basic idea behind a refrigerator is very simple: It uses the evaporation of a liquid to absorb heat. You probably know that when you put water on your skin it makes you feel cool. As the water evaporates, it absorbs heat, creating that cool feeling. Rubbing alcohol feels even cooler because it evaporates at a lower temperature. The liquid, or refrigerant, used in a refrigerator evaporates at an extremely low temperature, so it can create freezing temperatures inside the refrigerator. If you place your refrigerator’s refrigerant on your skin it will freeze your skin as it evaporates.

  • Compressor

  • Heat-exchanging pipes – serpentine or coiled set of pipes outside the unit

  • Expansion valve

  • Heat-exchanging pipes – serpentine or coiled set of pipes inside the unit

  • Refrigerant – liquid that evaporates inside the refrigerator to create the cold temperatures.

Diagram:

How does a refrigerator work How the fridge works
How does a refrigerator work How the fridge works

Basic Mechanism And Working:

  1. The compressor compresses the refrigerant gas. This raises the refrigerant’s pressure and temperature ( B ), so the heat-exchanging coils outside the refrigerator allow the refrigerant to dissipate the heat of pressurization ( B to C ).

  2. As it cools, the refrigerant condenses into liquid form and flows through the expansion valve ( C ).

  3. When it flows through the expansion valve, the liquid refrigerant is allowed to move from a high-pressure zone to a low-pressure zone, so it expands and evaporates ( A ). In evaporating, it absorbs heat, making it cold.

  4. The coils inside the refrigerator allow the refrigerant to absorb heat, making the inside of the refrigerator cold. The cycle then repeats.

  5. This is a fairly standard — and somewhat unsatisfying — explanation of how a refrigerator works. So let’s look at refrigeration using several real-world examples to understand what is truly happening.

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