New magnetocaloric material could change the cooling industry
12 April 2015
Refrigeration and air conditioning may become more efficient and environmentally friendly thanks to the work of Louisiana State University (LSU) physicists.
The team of researchers led by LSU Physics Professor Shane Stadler has discovered a breakthrough magnetocaloric material. In this new technology, a magnetic field magnetically orders the material at ambient temperature, which raises its temperature above ambient. The excess heat is removed through a thermal medium, such as water or air, bringing the material back to ambient temperature.
The magnetic field is then removed, the material becomes magnetically disordered and its temperature drops below ambient temperature leading to a cooling effect. This 'solid state' cooling process is significantly more energy efficient than the conventional, compressed gas systems currently on the market today.
“We’ve studied these systems for a long time, and were fortunate to discover a system in which a magnetic transition coincided in temperature with a structural transition,” Stadler says. “That this magnetostructural transition occurs near room temperature is what makes it a strong candidate for magnetocaloric cooling devices of the future.”