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13 October 2016

IIR Thermag conference looks at magnetic refrigeration

Since 2005, the International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR) has been organising a biennial conference focused on magnetic cooling in room temperatures, after a dedicated IIR Working Group was set up and the magnetocaloric effect produced by specific elements, such as gadolinium, was discovered.

Since 2005, the International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR) has been organising a biennial conference focused on magnetic cooling in room temperatures, after a dedicated IIR Working Group was set up and the magnetocaloric effect produced by specific elements, such as gadolinium, was discovered.

Each conference is increasingly successful due to a growing interest from both researchers and industrialists.

This year, approximately 200 people (pictured) attended the latest Thermag VII conference held in Turin, Italy, from 11-14 September. More than one third came from industry.

The papers from the Thermag VII conference are now available for download from the Fridoc database.

Several companies are about to market refrigerated equipment (household refrigerators, refrigerated display cabinets for supermarkets) using magnetic refrigeration. Two companies, Cooltech based in Strasbourg (France) and Cambridge based in Cambridge (United Kingdom), both sponsored the Thermag VII conference and exhibited the equipment currently in the testing phase.

At present, the investment costs for this equipment are higher than those for traditional devices and comparing the energy efficiency of both systems requires additional standardisation works; something which the IIR has already started to address.

Some technical developments are still needed and this is the purpose of ELICiT, a research project supported by the European Commission, which the IIR has been involved in. To this end, the IIR organised the very last workshop of the project, as well as a progress meeting of the IIR Industrial Sub-Working Group on Magnetic Refrigeration regarding the implementation of the project on the standards developed by the consortium.

Following on from the previous conference, Thermag VIII will also address a wider thematic scope such as electrocaloric refrigeration and should generate an even larger number of papers and contributions.

In the meantime, significant achievements are likely in view of the interest demonstrated by industrialists, researchers and governments, which suggest innovative papers and fruitful discussions.

The very first magnetic refrigerators expected to make an appearance in 2017, ahead of the international conference on ground-breaking technologies in 2018, Thermag VIII.

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