At the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, BASF, Haier (a manufacturer of household appliances), and the technology company Astronautics Corporation of America presented a proof-of-concept wine cooler refrigerated by a magnetocaloric heat pump. The new technology uses liquid, water-based coolants instead of gaseous refrigerants, saves energy, and operates with less noise. The magnetocaloric heat pump – a cooling device based on magnetocaloric materials – is an ideal alternative to traditional compressor- based refrigeration technology. Magnetocaloric materials heat up when put into a magnetic field and cool down when removed from the magnetic field.
The heat pump of the new apparatus cools the interior by transferring heat to the surrounding air by means of a water-based coolant. For this the coolant is moved back and forth between the magnetocaloric materials as they go in and out of the magnetic field. The key to success is a class of functional materials developed by BASF and the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. The materials based on manganese and iron consist of abundant and affordable raw materials. They show high performance across the whole range of temperatures relevant to refrigeration. BASF will sell these materials under the Quice® brand.