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October 29, 2013

BASF obtains exclusive rights to market magnetocaloric materials

Gerald Ondrey

BASF New Business GmbH (Luswigshafen, Germany; www.basf.com) has entered into an agreement with the Dutch Technology Foundation (STW; Utrecht; www.stw.nl), Delft University of Technology (www.tudelft.nl) and the University of Amsterdam (www.uva.nl) for licenses on the basic patents for magnetocaloric materials of the manganese iron family. Cooling systems based on these new materials enable more efficient cooling in refrigerators and air conditioning and are intended to replace conventional compressor technology.

The manganese iron magnetocaloric technology originated from research projects carried out by professor Ekkes Brück, first at the University of Amsterdam and later at Delft University of Technology. STW funded the research projects and patented the findings. BASF has been cooperating with Brück for several years within a so-called Industrial Partnership Programme (IPP). IPP’s are research programs where the Dutch Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM) couples academic knowledge with industrial ambitions and links renowned fundamental researchers with industry.

The partners have now reached an important milestone. BASF has successfully scaled up the manufacturing process, and thereupon signed a license agreement with its cooperation partners. “We have paved the ground for successful marketing by BASF by taking a license on the basic patents,” says Carla Seidel, vice president Energy at BASF New Business GmbH. “TU Delft and BASF will continue their joint efforts to enhance the performance of the innovative materials.”

BASF will sell its magnetocaloric materials under the Quice brand. The materials are manganese-iron-phosphorus-silicon alloys, hence they consist of abundant and affordable raw materials. These high performance materials feature optimum magnetocaloric properties across the whole range of temperatures relevant to refrigeration as well as high volume stability under operating conditions.

Magnetocaloric materials heat up in a magnetic field and cool down again when they are removed from the magnetic field. A heat pump based on magnetocaloric materials may therefore be an ideal alternative to traditional refrigeration technology. Refrigeration systems based on the magnetocaloric effect could significantly reduce energy consumption. Such systems would be ideal for a variety of applications, for example for refrigerators and air conditioners. This technology does not use any gaseous refrigerants.

 

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