We will examine the life cycle of rare earth metals used in magnetic phase change technologies. Our primary focus is on room temperature magnetic cooling, a near-market solid state alternative to gas compression in which a phase change magnetocaloric material is magnetised by a permanent magnet. We will address the fabrication, manufacture and use of the magnetocaloric material, aiming: (1) to reduce consumption and eliminate wastage of rare earths during the scalable manufacture of magnetocaloric parts; and (2) to drastically reduce the volume of rare earth permament magnet through a step-change improvement in the performance of low-rare earth or rare earth-free magnetocaloric materials.

Such developments will reduce both raw material use and future technology cost, providing the necessary bridge between state-of-the art prototyping activity and industrially scalable production of magnetic cooling engines. The project consortium includes materials physicists, researchers active in the industrial scale-up of parts manufacture, a magnet and magnetocaloric material supplier and an SME. This combination will provide feedback between fundamental magnetocaloric material properties, material performance under test, and potential impact on product design. A large-scale end-user partner will provide analyses of the life cycle, environmental and cost benefits of our research to the domestic refrigeration sector. The knowledge gained from our activities will be used in parallel for the development of magnetocaloric materials for a longer-term application: thermomagnetic power generation.