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Have you heard about caloric refrigeration systems?

May 15, 2018 - Scientists at the research consortium CaloriCool believe they are closing in on the materials needed for a new type of refrigeration technology that is “markedly more energy-efficient” than current gas compression systems.


May 15, 2018
By Anthony Capkun
Image courtesy Ames Laboratory

Currently, residential and commercial cooling consumes about one 5 kWh of electricity generated in the U.S., but a caloric refrigeration system could save as much as 30% in energy usage, says the consortium.

Caloric materials generate cooling effects when cyclically acted upon by magnetic, electric or mechanical forces, and consortium members have filed a pair of provisional patent applications on two such materials.

“Both of these materials are composed of common elements, which means they will be reasonably inexpensive to make in mass production,” said Vitalij Pecharsky, an Ames Laboratory scientist and CaloriCool director. “It’s an important hurdle to overcome for adoption of this technology into appliances and HVAC systems.”

They provide no further information on the materials themselves, except to say one has a magnetocaloric effect 50% better than any material of this class. The second patentable discovery corrects a flaw in an already known-material, formerly thought to be too brittle to be used outside of the laboratory.

CaloriCool’s ultimate goal is to transfer the solid-state cooling system technology into the marketplace for use in commercially available refrigeration appliances and systems.

Established as part of the Energy Materials Network, CaloriCool is sponsored by the U.S. DoE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy through its Advanced Manufacturing Office, and led by the Ames Laboratory at Iowa State University.

— Image courtesy Ames Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy.