A Fridge in Space
A Case Study in Thermodynamics
Department of Physics
Wright State University
This case analyzes the principles of thermodynamics and the operating cycle of an adiabatic demagnetizing refrigerator (ADR), a piece of equipment NASA uses to keep x-ray detectors cold enough to work. A synthesis of all the basic principles of thermodynamics, the case would be appropriate for students enrolled in a thermal physics course, typically taught at a sophomore level.
- Provide students with a stimulating real-life application of thermal physics.
- Develop critical thinking and reasoning skills.
- Train students to synthesize facts from various portions of a course.
- Illustrate the variety of physical parameters.
- Illustrate the difference between textbook and real-life physics.
KeywordsThermodynamics; heat energy; heat engine; adiabatic; isothermal; adiabatic demagnetizing refrigerator; magnetic refrigeration; magnetocaloric effect; x-ray spectrometer; cryogenics; NASA
Educational LevelUndergraduate lower division
Type / MethodsAnalysis (Issues), Interrupted
Subject HeadingsPhysics | Aerospace Engineering | Engineering (General) |