Talk of new refrigerants isn’t novel in the industry, but what about talk of altering the physical process of refrigeration? What would an HVAC industry without coils and compressors look like? The better question may be; what would it sound like?

Scientists have been working on thermoacoustic refrigeration for over two decades. The basic idea is to use sound for refrigeration instead of the current refrigerants that cooling devices rely on. The U.S Navy is interested, and so is ice cream mogul Ben & Jerry’s.

According to Cool Sound Industries Inc., one of the research companies working towards achieving this new type of refrigeration, “Thermoacoustic cooling and heating has accelerated rapidly with the production ban of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs and HCFCs) at the end of the year 2015.”

Although the concept has been in development for years, even dismissed by some, researchers have created real-world applications and are continuing their push to achieve new efficiencies and broader applications in thermoacoustic refrigeration.

I wouldn’t stop my coil and compressor maintenance training just yet, but the day could come when leak detection tools are swapped out for ear protection devices. Sounds a little farfetched, but so did 26 SEER back in the day.