Physicists Bring Us One Step Closer to Magnetic Refrigeration

By: | September 3rd, 2019

Image by Alexas from Pixabay

The concept of magnetic refrigeration isn’t new. Scientists have noticed a magneto-thermodynamic phenomenon since the early years of the last century, but finding feasible methods to expose objects to specific magnetic field changes that would lower their temperature was above what was practically possible back then. The first concept device only came in 2001, and by 2013, engineers proved that magnetic refrigeration could be commercially viable. 

Now, physicists working at the Laboratory of Novel Magnetic Materials of the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University have studied a new set of manganese and arsenic alloys that look very promising for the creation of magnetic cooling systems. As one of them stated: “We have discovered that the manganese-arsenic alloy is one of the best to use in the technology of solid-state magnetic cooling at room temperature.”

Previous realizations of this technology were focused on much lower temperatures that are suitable for cryogenics, while the manganese-arsenic alloy is far more suitable for widespread applications since it works at room temperatures and offers adequate temperature differences (ΔΤ). Moreover, the researchers claim that their concept device generates 300 watts of cooling power, and works at efficiencies that reach the record-breaking levels of 50%. 

Using solid refrigerant instead of liquid ones has a number of benefits, while it also opens up the way of practicality in several applications. For example, magnetic refrigeration is entirely environmentally-friendly, whereas freon is damaging the ozone layer. It can also be used in aerospace applications where forced circulation and pressure control is harder to achieve. 

For now, the researchers have published their findings on the “Journal of Alloys and Compounds” scientific magazine, and they will continue their experimentation on the long road to actual real-world application. Already, industry players like Philipp Kirsch GmbH have expressed their sincere interest to the emerging technology, as this is going to be a game-changer for sure. 

Bill Toulas

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