Conventional refrigeration vs magnetic refrigeration

The principle advantages of magnetic cooling are:

  1. improved device efficiency

  2. reduced CO2 production from these energy savings

  3. solid, non-volatile refrigerant, eliminating greenhouse gas refrigerants

How it works

A conventional refrigerator uses the energetic difference between gas and liquid to provide cooling via the expansion and contraction of a volatile refrigerant.

In an analogous way, we can harness the energetic differences between magnetic states in suitable solid refrigerants by reversible magnetization and demagnetization. The resulting "magnetocaloric effect" manifests itself by a change in temperature of a magnetic material on adiabatic (de)magnetization. In most cases, magnetization is accompanied by a temperature increase, largest around magnetic phase transitions accompanied by a sharp change in the magnetic state of the material.


Magnetic refrigerants

Although magnetic refrigeration has been used for many years to reach milliKelvin temperatures, interest in its application around room temperature has only recently grown.  We are considering a number of low cost magnetic refrigerants that will operate in the fields of permanent magnets.

Magnetic cooling engines

There are a number of differences between a vapour-based cooling engine and a one operating using a magnetic cycle.  Not least is the need for separate heat exchange fluids when using a solid, magnetic refrigerant.  Our project addresses both the engineering of the cooling engine and its integration into an air conditioner unit.

Further information

Magnetics Technology International article (May 2011)

Wikipedia entry

Conferences (future and past)

2013 MRS Spring Meeting (April 2013)

12th Joint MMM/Intermag Conference (January 2013)

Thermag V (September 2012)

Delft Days on Magnetocalorics (October 2011)

Euromat 2011 (September 2011)

MRS 2010 (November/December 2010)

Thermag IV (August 2010)

JEMS 2010 (August 2010)