Active magnetic regenerator and method using Gd.sub.5 (Si.sub.x Ge.sub.1-x).sub.4, where x is equal to or less than 0.5, as a magnetic refrigerant that exhibits a reversible ferromagnetic/antiferromagnetic or ferromagnetic-II/ferromagnetic-I first order phase transition and extraordinary magneto-thermal properties, such as a giant magnetocaloric effect, that renders the refrigerant more efficient and useful than existing magnetic refrigerants for commercialization of magnetic regenerators. The reversible first order phase transition is tunable from approximately 30 K to approximately 290 K (near room temperature) and above by compositional adjustments. The active magnetic regenerator and method can function for refrigerating, air conditioning, and liquefying low temperature cryogens with significantly improved efficiency and operating temperature range from approximately 10 K to 300 K and above. Also an active magnetic regenerator and method using Gd.sub.5 (Si.sub.x Ge.sub.1-x).sub.4, where x is equal to or greater than 0.5, as a magnetic heater/refrigerant that exhibits a reversible ferromagnetic/paramagnetic second order phase transition with large magneto-thermal properties, such as a large magnetocaloric effect that permits the commercialization of a magnetic heat pump and/or refrigerant. This second order phase transition is tunable from approximately 280 K (near room temperature) to approximately 350 K by composition adjustments. The active magnetic regenerator and method can function for low level heating for climate control for buildings, homes and automobile, and chemical processing.
CONTRACTUAL ORIGIN OF INVENTION
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-82 between the U.S. Department of Energy and Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, which contract grants to the Iowa State University Research Foundation, Inc. the right to apply for this patent.