Improving the Reliability, Longevity and Lifetime Performance of Magnetic Cooling Technology [Energy Catalyst: R3 Mid-Stage]

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Materials


Refrigeration and cooling consumes 15% of generated electricity (DEFRA); the largest component of this - ~33% - is related to domestic refrigeration, which is the focus of this proposal. In the home, domestic cooling appliances account for ~14.5% of total electricity usage. Currently only magnetic refrigeration technology is seen as a viable alternative to conventional compressor coolers: but there market access has thus far been halted by reliability issues. The overarching aims of this project, therefore, is to enable this 'green' technology by improving the reliability, longevity and the lifetime performance of magnetic cooling- to reach a point where manufacturers can test a baselined system; the step prior to IP licensing. Camfridge has a magnetic cooling platform, which is the most compact and cost-effective in the world, and the project will examining failure modes, taking both a bottom-up and top-down approach.
Imperial College will focus specifically on the mechanism of degradation, the lifetime of the magnetic refrigerant and development of protection strategies; Camfridge (Lead Partner) will systematically improve the longevity and performance of components, and Arcelik (Beko), a major appliance manufacturer will examine cooling engine failure modes and performance from an integrated system (top-down) appliance perspective.
The project will deliver a baseline design demonstrating the required levels of technology readiness necessary for widespread industrial testing; replicas of the baseline unit developed in this project will be made available to appliance manufacturers in target regional markets.

Planned Impact

There is an urgent need to develop advanced materials-based technologies to address the problems posed by decreasing energy security and increased energy demand. The ubiquitous nature of the research topic creates a wide range of potential beneficiaries.
Economic: Cooling is energy intensive: it consumes up to 14% of Britain's electricity and £5.2 billion each year is spent on energy for "cold" across the UK grid and transport. The proposed work will directly impact our project partners, Camfridge, placing them in a leading position to demonstrate working prototype systems.
Societal/environmental: the results of the research will have a considerable impact in the reduction of energy usage; a key goal which is a priority area for a range of stakeholders from individuals to Governments, and to Global requirements for sustainability. This work addresses a critical need of global populations: scalable, stable efficient cooling. From an end user perspective the aim will be to reduce energy usage, and hence reduce energy costs and reduce emissions.
People (Future Leaders): By focusing advanced materials science and engineering to this key issue we will stimulate creativity and adventure and provide a first class training environment. The RAs will have access to our Post-doctoral development Centre that provides high quality development programmes specifically for PDRAs. There will be a strong emphasis on knowledge transfer training with direct involvement from Imperial Innovations, London Centre for Nanotechnology and industrial partners. In addition they will have access to an outstanding suite of state of the art facilities and the opportunity through the collaborations experience both academic and industrial research environments.
Policy (energy policy community): We will engage with energy/environmental economists within energy policy centres, including the UK Energy Research Centre and the Grantham Institute (Imperial College London). We will interact with UK energy-related centres of excellence including, Imperial College London Energy Futures Lab, Thomas Young Centre, UCL Energy Institute, and the SUPERGEN consortia In broader terms and to reinforce the Research Councils remit. We have direct links to the Energy Research Accelerator, which draws on the University of Birmingham's expertise in energy research and in particular Thermal Energy Technologies and its excellent relationships with industry, and to its involvement in the new policy commission 'Doing Cold Smarter'.
The funding of this project with the associated partners, collaborators and co-investigators puts the UK in a strong position both to develop fundamental understanding and use this knowledge for future exploitation, as well as putting us in a key position for funding platforms beyond this current grant, and to launch new projects with collaborative industry (Innovate UK) and launch new EU projects, network grants and Marie Curie training grants with our European collaborators.
Description Elucidation of the effects of the magetic field on electrochemical behaviour of the active component of active regenerator material. This is the first time these experiments have been carried out under controlled field conditions and show that the material behaviour is dependent on both the environment and the magnetic state of the alloy (with the paramagnetic state showing the highest degree of field assisted corrosion). The methods developed enabled us to test and recommend mitigation strategies.
Exploitation Route Our industrial collaborators (partners in the Innovate programme) are already testing the recommendations from our findings
Sectors Energy

Description Our data are being used by the project partner Camfridge in the application of corrosion mitigation strategies for commercialization of their design.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Energy
Description Camfridge 
Organisation Camfridge Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Collaboration to understand the electrochemical behaviour of materials under magnetic field conditions.
Collaborator Contribution Provision of materials and magnetic field control set up
Impact Multidisciplinary: Materials, Physics, refrigeration engineering
Start Year 2016
Description Presentation at Gordon Research Seminar (Liya Guo) 'The corrosion behaviour of magnetocaloric alloys La(Fe,Mn,Si)13Hx under magnetic field conditions' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact ~60 people attended talk at GRC meeting
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018