ERC starting grant project SUPERCOOL: Superelastic porous structures for efficient elastocaloric cooling
- The second ERC Staring grant in Slovenia (and the first as a part of Horizon 2020 program)
- Overall budget of 1.4 M€ over a 5 year period (2019-2023)
- The final aim of the project is to develop a novel highly efficient elastocaloric device by combining optimal superelastic porous structures, which will act as an elastocaloric regenerator, and an efficient driver mechanism utilizing force recovery.
- In situ thermomechanical characterization of tensile/compressive response of elastocaloric materials (shape-memory alloys),
- Evaluation of tensile/compressive fatigue behavior of elastocaloric materials (shape-memory alloys),
- In situ evaluation of the performance of elastocaloric materials and elastocaloric active regenerators under different thermodynamic cycles and different operating conditions,
- Fabrication and structural/microstructural/thermal characterization of porous elastocaloric active ,regenerators made of different elastocaloric materials (shape-memory alloys),
- Theoretical analysis of structural/thermal performance of elastocaloric active regenerators.
Cooling, refrigeration and air-conditioning are crucial for our modern society. In the last decade, the global demands for cooling are growing exponentially. The standard refrigeration technology, based on vapor compression, is old, inefficient and environmentally harmful. In SUPERCOOL project we will exploit the potential of elastocaloric cooling, probably the most promising solid-state refrigeration technology, which utilizes the latent heat associated with the martensitic transformation in superelastic shape-memory alloys. We have already demonstrated a novel concept of utilizing the elastocaloric effect (eCE) by introducing a superelastic porous structure in an elastocaloric regenerative thermodynamic cycle.
Our preliminary results, recently published in Nature Energy, show the tremendous potential of such a system. However, two fundamental challenges remain. First, we need to create a geometry of the superelastic porous structure (elastocaloric regenerator) to ensure sufficient fatigue life, a large eCE and rapid heat transfer. Second, we must have a driver mechanism that can effectively utilize the work released during the unloading of the elastocaloric regenerator. To succeed, we are proposing a unique approach to design advanced elastocaloric regenerators with complex structures together with a driver mechanism with a force-recovery principle. We will employ a systematic characterization and bottom-up linking of all three crucial aspects of the elastocaloric regenerator i.e. the thermo-hydraulic properties, the stability and the structural fatigue together with a new solution for force recovery in effective drivers. Based on these theoretical, numerical and experimental results we will combine both key elements of our novel elastocaloric concept into a prototype device, which could be the first major breakthrough in cooling technologies in the past 100 years, providing greater efficiency and reduced levels of pollution, by applying a solid-state refrigerant.
Experts in the field
Do not hesitate to contact us via e-mail or by telephone. You can also visit us at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in Ljubljana
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