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Magnetocaloric Refrigerator

United States Patent Application

View the Complete Application at the US Patent & Trademark Office
The invention is for an apparatus and method for a refrigerator and a heat pump based on the magnetocaloric effect (MCE) offering a simpler, lighter, robust, more compact, environmentally compatible, and energy efficient alternative to traditional vapor-compression devices. The subject magnetocaloric apparatus alternately exposes a suitable magnetocaloric material to strong and weak magnetic field while switching heat to and from the material by a mechanical commutator comprising heat pipe elements. The invention may be practiced with multiple magnetocaloric stages to attain large differences in temperature. Key applications include thermal management of electronics, as well as industrial and home refrigeration, heating, and air conditioning. The invention offers a simpler, lighter, compact, and robust apparatus compared to magnetocaloric devices of prior art. Furthermore, the invention may be run in reverse as a thermodynamic engine, receiving low-level heat and producing mechanical energy.
Vetrovec, Jan (Larkspur, CO)
15/ 731,270
May 15, 2017
GOVERNMENT RIGHTS IN THIS INVENTION [0002] This invention was made with U.S. Government support under the U.S. Department of Energy Grant No. DE-SC0013769. The U.S. Government may have certain rights in this invention.