Sound Wave Refrigerants

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Irvine, California
Project Term:
09/15/2010 - 09/21/2011

Technology Description:

Material Methods is developing a heat pump technology that substitutes the use of sound waves and an environmentally benign refrigerant for synthetic refrigerants found in conventional heat pumps. Called a thermoacoustic heat pump, the technology is based on the fact that the pressure oscillations in a sound wave result in temperature changes. Areas of higher pressure raise temperatures and areas of low pressure decrease temperatures. By carefully arranging a series of heat exchangers in a sound field, the heat pump is able to isolate the hot and cold regions of the sound waves. This technology is environmentally safe, and the simplicity of the mechanical system creates efficiencies that make the system cost competitive with traditional refrigerant-based systems.

Potential Impact:

If successful, Material Methods’ sound waves technology would enable environmentally safe, energy-efficient refrigeration and help decrease the use of conventional, polluting refrigerants.


Increased energy efficiency would decrease U.S. energy demand and reduce reliance on fossil fuels, strengthening U.S. energy security.


Refrigerants with polluting emissions could account for up to 10-20% of global warming by the year 2050. Material Methods' technology could help eliminate the use of these refrigerants.


Widespread adoption of this technology could increase energy efficiency of air conditioners and refrigerators, providing consumers with cost savings on energy bills.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Ravi Prasher
Project Contact:
Stephen Jaffe, Ph.D.
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Ilya Vitebskiy, PhD
Dr. Vladimir Goren

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