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Press Releases
  2009/08/27  
  Magnetic technology revolutionizes refrigeration
 
   
   
- Change in refrigeration technology could cut energy consumption by up to 50 percent

- BASF researchers cooperate with Delta Electronics, Inc.

BASF and Delta Electronics, Inc. want to use environmentally friendly magnetocaloric technology to develop new cooling systems and explore the opportunities of magne-tocaloric power generation. The cooperation partners are working on materials and prototypes for cooling systems and power generators intended to replace conven-tional compressor technology in refrigerators and air conditioning systems.

"Our experts in material and process development work closely with scientists in fun-damental research at internationally renowned universities such as the TU Delft and our innovative industrial partner, Delta Electronics," said Professor Rainer Diercks, President, Chemicals Research & Engineering at BASF. "BASF has already started the scale-up for the production of special, economically feasible materials that al-ready show a magnetocaloric effect at relatively low temperatures and thus offer a broad range of applications. This is a major contribution to the success of this pro-ject."

"We are delighted to team up with BASF," said Delta's Vice Chairman and Chief Ex-ecutive Office Yancey Hai. "Our joint development project with BASF is in line with our mission to provide innovative, clean and efficient energy solutions for a better tomorrow. We will generate new business opportunities with our competency as a system integrator of efficient energy technologies."

Cooling systems based on the magnetocaloric effect have the potential of signifi-cantly reducing energy consumption. The magnetic technology does away with gaseous refrigerants and is therefore quieter and causes less vibration than conven-tional compressor type refrigerators. It is also compact enough to suit all conventional household refrigerators and commercial applications such as computer cooling sys-tems or air conditioners.

As long ago as 1880, the German physicist Emil Warburg observed that ferromag-netic materials heat up when introduced into a magnetic field and cool down again when removed. Magnetic field based cooling systems have existed since the 1930s – but so far only in laboratories. Today, new materials in magnetic refrigeration tech-nology and more effective permanent magnets allow for a much larger effect. Already at normal ambient temperatures, even weak magnetic fields can generate particularly large temperature differences that can be utilized for cooling by means of a heat ex-change system. As a specialist in innovative solutions for energy management, Delta wants to develop small coolers for household appliances.

"We're all ready to go. What we need now are prototypes for cooling systems to demonstrate the energy-saving potential in everyday use," said Dr. Thomas Weber, Managing Director of BASF Future Business GmbH, which coordinates material op-timization, product design and production processes. Initial estimates by material re-searchers suggest that energy consumption can be cut by up to 50 percent by using a unit with magnetic refrigerating technology instead of a conventional refrigerator.

Commercially viable applications for magnetocaloric cooling are only possible if there is an abundant supply of affordable raw materials. BASF is working, for example, on chemically stable manganese-iron compounds. These compounds are characterized by low-volume expansion and a particularly large magnetocaloric effect. At the same time, these materials are cheaper to produce than those based on the metal gadolin-ium and its salts that have been used to date. The production of larger amounts for industrial applications is currently being tested.

One of the main research goals in the area of magnetocalorics is to save energy in numerous potential applications ranging from cryoproduction in the process industry, through automotive air conditioners, miniaturized cooling systems for electronic com-ponents and refrigerators. "Cooling equipment accounts for about one-fifth of domes-tic energy consumption. The refrigerator is in effect the most important home appli-ance in terms of potential energy savings because every household has one – and because it is one of the most power hungry appliances," explained Olaf Rogge, Mag-netocalorics Project Leader at BASF Future Business, to illustrate the scale of the challenge.

About BASF Future Business GmbH
BASF Future Business GmbH, a 100 percent subsidiary of BASF SE, was founded in April 2001. It aims to open up business areas with above-average growth rates that lie outside BASF's current activities. The company focuses on chemistry-based new materials, technologies and system solutions. BASF Future Business GmbH com-missions research from BASF's R&D units and cooperates with startup companies, industrial partners, universities and potential customers. Further activities include ac-quisition of direct stakes, initiation of joint ventures and provision of venture capital via the subsidiary BASF Venture Capital GmbH. Further information on BASF Future Business is available on the Internet at http://www.basf-fb.de

About BASF
BASF is the world's leading chemical company: The Chemical Company. Its portfolio ranges from chemicals, plastics and performance products to agricultural products, fine chemicals as well as oil and gas. As a reliable partner BASF helps its customers in virtually all industries to be more successful. With its high-value products and intel-ligent solutions, BASF plays an important role in finding answers to global challenges such as climate protection, energy efficiency, nutrition and mobility. BASF posted sales of more than €62 billion in 2008 and had approximately 97,000 employees as of the end of the year. BASF shares are traded on the stock exchanges in Frankfurt (BAS), London (BFA) and Zurich (AN). Further information on BASF is available on the Internet at http://www.basf.com

About Delta Group
Delta Group is the world's largest provider of switching power supplies and brushless fans, as well as a major source for power management solutions, components, visual displays, industrial automation, networking products, and renewable energy solutions. Established in 1971, Delta Group has sales offices worldwide and manufacturing plants in Taiwan, China, Thailand, Japan, Mexico, India and Europe. As a global leader in power electronics, Delta's mission is, "To provide innovative, clean and effi-cient energy solutions for a better tomorrow." Delta is committed to environmental protection and has implemented green, lead-free production and recycling and waste management programs for many years. More information about Delta Group can be found at http://www.deltaww.com
News Source: Corporate Communications
     
   
 
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