The University of Amsterdam (UvA), Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) and the Dutch Technology Foundation STW have entered into an agreement with the chemical company BASF to license basic patents for magnetocaloric materials from the manganese/iron family. Cooling systems based on these new materials enable refrigerators and air conditioning systems to be cooled more efficiently, and are likely to replace conventional compressor technology.
Magnetocaloric technology emerged out of research projects carried out by Professor Ekkes Brück, formerly at the UvA and later at TU Delft. STW financed the research projects and patented the results. BASF has been working with Brück for several years as part of an Industrial Partnership Programme (IPP). IPPs are research programmes where the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM) brings together academic expertise and industrial objectives through high-level fundamental research carried out in close collaboration with the business sector.
Magnetocaloric materials heat up in a magnetic field and cool down again when they are removed from the magnetic field. A heating pump based on magnetocaloric materials could therefore be a perfect alternative to traditional cooling systems. Cooling systems based on the magnetocaloric effect could significantly reduce energy requirements. Such systems would therefore be perfect for a wide range of applications, such as refrigerators and air conditioners. The technology has no need for cooling gases.