Researchers from the research consortium CaloriCool ® are very close to developing the materials required for an innovative kind of refrigeration technology that is evidently more energy efficient when compared to prevalent gas compression systems.
Currently, residential and commercial cooling consumes about one out of every five kilowatt-hours of electricity generated in the US, but a caloric refrigeration system could save as much as 30 percent in energy usage. (Image credit: Ames Laboratory, US Department of Energy)
At present, nearly one out of every five kilowatt-hours of electricity produced in the United States is consumed by commercial and residential cooling consumes. On the other hand, a caloric refrigeration system will be able to save almost 30% of the energy consumption.
A pair of provisional patent applications on two caloric materials has been filed by members of the consortium. These materials are compounds with the ability to produce strong cooling effects when mechanical, electric or magnetic forces act on them. The magnetocaloric effect of one of the materials is 50% more than any material of this category known earlier. The second patentable finding rectifies a defect in an already familiar material, which was earlier considered to be highly brittle to be used outside the laboratory setting.
Both of these materials are composed of common elements, which means they will be reasonably inexpensive to make in mass production. It’s an important hurdle to overcome for adoption of this technology into appliances and HVAC systems.
Vitalij Pecharsky, Ames Laboratory Scientist and CaloriCool Director
The ultimate aim of CaloriCool is to take the solid-state cooling system technology to the marketplace for application in commercially available refrigeration systems and appliances.
® was established as part of the Energy Materials Network and is sponsored by the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy through its Advanced Manufacturing Office, and headed by the Ames Laboratory at Iowa State University.