Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Milestone in magnetic cooling

The first milestone in magnetic cooling has been achieved. Between 5 and 10 degrees of cooling – this was the success criteria for the first milestone in a project involving magnetic cooling at Risø National Laboratory – Technical University of Denmark (DTU).

And the figure is currently at 8.7°C – this means that a refrigerator at room temperature (20°C) can be cooled to almost 11°C. Of course, this is not quite enough to keep the milk cold, but the project’s test setup also has only the one objective of conducting research in different materials, varying operating conditions and the strength of the magnetic field.

Size is not all that matters!

“The setup is not the largest of its type, but the most important thing is that it ’s easy to exchange parts in the machine. With the knowledge that we gain along the way, we will ultimately be able to build the very best magnetic cooling system,” explains Christian Bahl, a postdoctoral student attached to the project for one year.

More than DKK 21 million in new funding has made it possible to appoint three PhD students this year to work on the MagCool project, and two more PhD students are to be appointed this autumn. Christian Bahl will also be joined by another two postdoctoral students in 2009.

How is a magnetic field used for cooling?

Magnetic cooling technology exploits the fact that when a magnetic material, in this case the element gadolinium, is magnetised, heat is produced as a by-product of entropy. The principle of entropy is that there will always be a constant amount of order/disorder in a substance. When the magnet puts the substance in “order”, it has to get rid of the excess disorder – and this becomes heat. Conversely, when the magnetic field is again removed, the substance becomes cold.

The heat is transferred to a fluid that is pumped back and forth past the substance inside a cylinder. The end that becomes cold will be located inside the refrigerator and the warm end will be outside.

Why magnetic cooling?

It is natural to wonder: Why magnetic cooling? After all, there are decent and also relatively energy-efficient refrigerators on the market. But there are three good reasons why this type of cooling has a future.

First, the technology is potentially more energy-efficient than the alternatives. It only really uses energy to move the magnetic field to and from the magnetic material. The model currently under development produces the magnetic field through a system of powerful blocks of magnets similar to those we use on our refrigerator doors, only stronger. These do not get worn out, and thus do not need replacing, which is very good for the environment.

This leads to the second major benefit, namely the fluid, which could turn out to be just plain water. Consequently, there would not be the same environmental impact as with today’s compressor-based refrigerators. The third great potential difference is the noise level. Bahl expects their demonstration model, which should be ready in 2010, to be practically silent. The opportunities are obvious.

“It is probably not realistic to think that magnetic cooling technology will be used in consumers’ homes right away. Manufacturers have spent too many years streamlining the prices of the existing refrigerators. Initially, it will be about implementation in various types of niche applications – large-scale refrigerating plants, soda machines or places where a noise-free environment is important,” says Bahl, adding, however, that he believes it will ultimately spread to the rest of society.

On a global scale, there are at least ten other teams working on similar projects involving magnetic cooling, but the field has not yet become a major focus area. The concept of magnetic cooling has been known for many years, but using the technology at room temperature is something relatively new.

Collaboration with industry

At Risø’s Department of Fuel Cells and Solid State Chemistry, Senior Scientist Nini Pryds has received a grant of approximately DKK 14 million from the Danish Council for Strategic Research Programme Commission on Energy and Environment. Along with the DKK 7 million that Risø and the three partners – DTU’s Department of Manufacturing and Engineering Management, Sintex and Danfoss – are investing in the MagCool project, it will be possible to develop a prototype.

Sintex has the expertise in permanent magnetic fields, and the company is currently developing the model of magnets that will produce the powerful magnetic field for Risø’s test model. Another objective of the project is to determine whether this technology can pave the way for the super-efficient and environmentally friendly refrigeration machine of the future.

Leif Sonderberg Petersen | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Move over, lasers: Scientists can now create holograms from neutrons, too
21.10.2016 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus
20.10.2016 | The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>