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Thermo acoustic have been known for over years but the use of this phenomenon to develop engines and
pumps is fairly recent. Thermo acoustic refrigeration is one such phenomenon that uses high intensity sound waves
in a pressurized gas tube to pump heat from one place to other to produce refrigeration effect. In this type of
refrigeration all sorts of conventional refrigerants are eliminated and sound waves take their place.
All we need is a loud speaker and an acoustically insulated tube. Also this system completely eliminates the need for
lubricants and results in 40% less energy consumption. Thermo acoustic heat engines have the advantage of
operating with inert gases and with little or no moving parts, making them highly efficient ideal candidate for
environmentally-safe refrigeration with almost zero maintenance cost. Now we will look into a thermo acoustic
refrigerator, its principle and functions.
A thermo acoustic engine converts heat from a high-temperature source into acoustic power while rejecting
waste heat to a low temperature sink. A thermo acoustic refrigerator does the opposite, using acoustic power to pump
heat from a cool source to a hot sink. These devices perform best when they employ noble gases as their
thermodynamic working fluids. Unlike the chemicals used in refrigeration over the years, such gases are both
nontoxic and environmentally benign. Another appealing feature of thermo acoustics is that one can easily flange an
engine onto a refrigerator, creating a heat powered cooler with no moving parts at all.
The principle can be imagined as a loud speaker creating high amplitude sound waves that can compress refrigerant
allowing heat absorption. The researches have exploited the fact that sound waves travel by compressing and
expanding the gas they are generated in.
Suppose that the above said wave is traveling through a tube. Now, a temperature gradient can be generated by
putting a stack of plates in the right place in the tube, in which sound waves are bouncing around. Some plates in the
stack will get hotter while the others get colder. All it takes to make a refrigerator out of this is to attach heat
exchangers to the end of these stacks.
Acoustic or sound waves can be utilized to produce cooling. The pressure variations in the acoustic wave
are accompanied by temperature variations due to compressions and expansions of the gas. For a single medium,
the average temperature at a certain location does not change. When a second medium is present in the form of a
solid wall, heat is exchanged with the wall. An expanded gas parcel will take heat from the wall, while a compressed
parcel will reject heat to the wall.
As expansion and compression in an acoustic wave are inherently associated with a displacement, a net transport of
heat results. To fix the direction of heat flow, a standing wave pattern is generated in an acoustic resonator. The
reverse effect also exists: when a large enough temperature gradient is imposed to the wall, net heat is absorbed and
an acoustic wave is generated, so that heat is converted to work.

The principle may find applications in practical refrigerators, providing cooling, heat engines providing heat or power
generators providing work. A great advantage of the technique is that there are no or only one moving part, in the
cold area, which results in high reliability and low vibration levels. Also the use of inert gases make them
environmentally safe and hence more in demand.
Thermo acoustic refrigeration systems operate by using sound waves and a non-flammable mixture of inert
gas (helium, argon, air) or a mixture of gases in a resonator to produce cooling. Thermo acoustic devices are
typically characterized as either standing-wave or travelling-wave. A schematic diagram of a standing wave device
is shown in figure

The main components are a closed cylinder, an acoustic driver, a porous component called a "stack, and
two heat-exchanger systems. Application of acoustic waves through a driver such as a loud speaker, makes the gas
resonant. As the gas oscillates back and forth, it creates a temperature difference along the length of the stack. This
temperature change comes from compression and expansion of the gas by the sound pressure and the rest is a
consequence of heat transfer between the gas and the stack. The temperature difference is used to remove heat
from the cold side and reject it at the hot side of the system. As the gas oscillates back and forth because of the
standing sound wave, it changes in temperature. Much of the temperature change comes from compression and
expansion of the gas by the sound pressure (as always in a sound wave), and the rest is a consequence of heat
transfer between the gas and the stack.