CaloriCoolTM, an early stage research consortium led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory, expects to test new materials for use in improved refrigeration technologies sometime this year. Because current residential and commercial cooling consumes one out of every five (or more) kilowatt-hours of electricity generated in the U.S., the consortium recently assembled a team of academic and industry scientists and engineers to continue research and development work on the challenge of radically improving the energy efficiency of refrigeration technologies.
Formed last year, the consortium has already made progress in exploring the field of possible caloric materials--which can generate cooling when cyclically acted upon by either magnetic, electric, or mechanical forces--for use in next-generation refrigeration technologies. The team is focused on materials composed of non-toxic and earth-abundant resources that can be engineered to exhibit powerful caloric effects, and are readily adaptable to common industrial synthesis and processing, manufacturing practices, and commercialization.
“Consortium’s researchers agree that the key to really high-efficiency refrigeration systems is caloric materials,” said Ames Laboratory scientist and CaloriCool Director Vitalij Pecharsky, who is also an Anson Marston Distinguished Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Iowa State University. “But until this point, discoveries in this field have been serendipitous. The aim of this consortium is to change all that, to pool our expertise and conduct a methodical search for the right materials to make this technology happen.”
The consortium will analyze promising caloric materials in specially designed test station device that allows researchers to rapidly assess the samples in an actual working environment.
To further speed the discovery phase, one of the partners – Citrine Informatics – is contributing by developing a system that will merge both published and consortium’s own experimental data with fast computational assessment of promising materials.
”We make a common platform available to all consortium partners, where the world’s caloric materials information can be stored, searched, and analyzed together in a way that has never been possible before,” said Kyle Michel, chief technology officer of Citrine Informatics. “By deploying our Artificial Intelligence system on that data, Citrine screens millions of new materials in seconds to identify promising candidates for researchers within the CaloriCool consortium, leading to new materials insights in less than half the time of traditional approaches.”
The consortium’s goal is to double the pool of caloric materials available today, and transfer the know-how into the market place so that these new materials created by the consortium can be integrated into up-and-coming commercial caloric refrigeration systems within ten years. CaloriCool estimates that caloric refrigeration technology could be as much as 30 percent more energy efficient than traditional vapor-compression refrigeration technology.
The consortium held its first annual meeting at the end of March, which included researchers and engineers from Pacific Northwest and Oak Ridge National Laboratories, University of Maryland, Pennsylvania State University, Astronautics Corporation of America, Citrine Informatics, GE Appliances, and DOE consortium program managers from the Advanced Manufacturing Office and Buildings Technology Office of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) leads the U.S. Department of Energy’s efforts to develop and deliver market-driven solutions for energy-saving homes, building, and manufacturing; sustainable transportation; and renewable electricity generation.
Ames Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science national laboratory operated by Iowa State University. Ames Laboratory creates innovative materials, technologies and energy solutions. We use our expertise, unique capabilities and interdisciplinary collaborations to solve global problems.
DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov