The domestic fridge consumes 5% of all generated electricity. As a result, current
regulatory regimes are structured to drive domestic fridge manufacturers to produce
the most energy efficient appliances possible.
Magnetic cooling, a cost effective solution
Magnetic cooling is intended to be a cost effective solution to enable A+++ appliances,
the highest level of energy efficiency as defined by the EU single market. This solution,
when combined with the latest insulation, could represent a further 20% reduction in energy
consumption for domestic appliances beyond the A+++ standard.
Environmentally friendly results
Because magnetic refrigeration uses solid refrigerants, it is gas free. In the European Union
this means the elimination of iso‐butane which has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 3.3,
but remains highly flammable. Outside Europe, HFCs with a GWP of 1000 or more will be eliminated.
Challenges facing manufacturers today
Since consumers prefer high-efficiency products, the most efficient appliances
tend to rapidly gain dominant market share. Additionally, the A+++ market expects
fast growth in this decade, adding even more value to magnetic cooling devices.
The challenges facing manufacturers is to make an A+++ appliance cost‐effective.
One solution to deliver an A+++ appliance is to use vacuum insulated panels
(VIP). Currently these VIPs remain both expensive and fragile while their use will
require changes to existing manufacturing processes.
Cost competitiveness and environmental friendliness
Through cost competitiveness, magnetic cooling will be instrumental in driving
the A+++ market. This development would aid the migration of average
efficiency in domestic appliances from A (which is the current average efficiency
of the European installed base) to A+++. This is set to occur over a 10‐12 years
period through the gradual process of appliance replacement.
As a result, around 20 million tonnes per annum of CO2 equivalent could be
removed from EU emissions. The potential contribution made by migrating from
an average installed base efficiency class of A++ to A+++ (through magnetic
cooling) is 3.7 million tonnes of CO2 per annum.
Progress beyond the state‐of –the‐ art
Looking beyond the immediate scope of the ELICiT Project, it is fair to say that
magnetic cooling is at the beginning of its life, and after 50 years gas
compressors technology is reaching the limit of what’s possible. This project is
an essential step in enabling magnetic cooling to increase energy efficiency in
Magnetic cooling is gas and oil free, because rather than being based on the
expansion and compression of gases, it uses metal alloys and magnetic fields to
drive a cooling cycle. Removing both oil and gas from mainstream cooling
technology would lead to the direct environmental benefits.
Focusing on appliances, the most efficient appliance is A+++, an emerging
market category. Currently, many companies do not have an A+++ product on
the market due to high costs that hold back consumer demand. Magnetic
cooling is being developed as a lower cost alternative for A+++
appliances, thus helping to accelerate the adoption of the A+++.