ARLINGTON, Va. - The Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Technology Institute's (ARTI's) 21st Century Research (21CR) program has awarded a contract for magnetic cooling research to the University of Wisconsin. The project titled "Model and Evaluation Tools for Assessing Magnetocaloric Effect for Space Conditioning and Refrigeration Applications" will develop modeling and simulation tools to assess the system performance of magnetocaloric cooling.

Magnetic cooling is possible through the use of certain paramagnetic materials, like gadolinium alloys. These materials heat up when placed in a magnetic field and cool down when the magnetic field is removed. The amount of heat absorbed and released is dependent on a number of factors, including the properties of the material, the strength of the magnetic field applied, and the material's Curie temperature. According to ARTI, most materials have low Curie temperatures, which restricts the application of magnetic cooling to cryogenic cooling. However, recent development of new alloys have yielded materials with Curie temperatures that are approaching ranges which may make it practical for typical comfort cooling and refrigeration uses.

The project will identify the properties that are pertinent to the heating and cooling performance of magnetocaloric materials and how to model those properties into a simulation program to predict the efficiency and capacity of theoretical systems.

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Publication date: 11/17/2003