Publish Date: 12.09.2016

Category: News from the University

The Laboratory for Refrigeration and District Energy (LAHDE) from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the University of Ljubljana developed and produced the first regenerative elastocaloric refrigerator prototype in cooperation with the Technical University of Denmark.

The co-developed device is created to both cool and heat with the help of stretching and contracting of a piece of super elastic metal, which is used as a substitute for the gas commonly used in regular refrigerators. With the use of an environmentally safe cooling agent they hope to improve the relatively low efficiency and eliminate the greenhouse effect of conventional refrigerators. A nickel and titanium alloy (so-called Nitinol) is used as the super elastic material, or the cooling agent. The effect was observed and measured while heating and cooling the alloy.

This means that the newly developed refrigerator is potentially more efficient than a conventional refrigerator. The measurements and the study results were published in the widely acknowledged peer reviewed journal Nature Energy.

Dr. Jaka Tušek, the primary author of the published scientific article said: "We created the first such system in the world, but which is still in the prototype phase. Nevertheless, it was well received by the public across the globe. We surpassed all previous results for similar technologies and opened the doors for future development in this field."Elastocaloric refrigerators can be adjusted to size and effect, which means that their use can be significantly expanded. They could be used for cooling individual computer or server processors, in electrical cars, in kitchen appliances or heat pumps.

The development of this elastocaloric cooling is funded by the Slovenian Research Agency (AARS). In order to produce the prototype, the members of the LAHDE laboratory collaborated with the Welding Laboratory of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering under the mentorship of Dr. Janez Tušek.