Project summary

Energy efficient heat pumps will play a crucial role in the future sustainable energy system. The overall goal of the present project is to develop the scientific and technological foundation for high efficiency heat pumps using magnetocaloric technology. The refrigerant in such a device is a solid magnetic material whose temperature increases when magnetised and decreases when demagnetised.

The use of solid-state active regenerator technology has several advantages compared to traditional vapour-compression heat pumps, including high energy efficiency, quiet operation and a lack of toxic or greenhouse contributing gases. Also, the heat transfer fluid within the device can be pumped throughout the entire circuit, obviating the need for the secondary circuits and associated heat exchangers and pumps found in conventional “ground source” heat pumps. However, if magnetocaloric heat pumps are to be realised, a number of issues must be solved, drawing on a complex interplay between several scientific fields.

The key scientific challenges will be characterisation and optimisation of materials for use in the device, development of novel algorithms for modelling optimal hybrid magnet designs combining permanent magnets and electromagnets, as well as efficient regenerator design for high heat transfer performance with low pressure.

Optimal system operation and integration into buildings will also be addressed. The consortium behind the proposal is headed by one of the world’s foremost research groups within magnetocalorics and includes partners with key expertise within systems analysis, materials and magnets, and building integration. The inclusion of the four industrial partners ensures an effective and timely transfer of project results to industry.