Magnetic refrigeration to store liquid hydrogen

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Hydrogen will play a key role in the transformation towards a society that is carbon neutral, that is, in which the carbon emitted does not exceed the carbon captured. Compared to the current use of hydrogen, it is estimated that the world’s needs for this chemical element will increase fivefold by the year 2050, reaching some 550 million tons. But storing hydrogen in a liquid state, which requires reducing the temperature to below 253 degrees Celsius, has historically required enormous amounts of energy. During liquefaction by traditional methods, approximately one third of the energy content of hydrogen is lost, making the process largely uneconomical.

Researchers from the Helmholtz Center of Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), the Technical University of Darmstadt and the company MAGNOTHERM, all these entities in Germany, are working on a project funded by the European Union, aimed at achieving alternative, more efficient and more cheap, for the distribution of hydrogen on a large scale.

To do this, HZDR’s Tino Gottschall and colleagues are working with magnetocaloric materials that change their temperature when exposed to a magnetic field.

After many years of joint preliminary work, MAGNOTHERM was created in 2019, a company promoted by the Technical University of Darmstadt. The main objective of the company is to bring magnetic refrigeration to the market.

To do this, a prototype will first be built that will help to introduce the use of magnetic refrigeration in the industrial liquefaction of hydrogen.

The prototype of a magnetic refrigerator to obtain liquid hydrogen at low cost will be the first step to introduce magnetic refrigeration in the industry. (Image: T. Gottschall / B. Schröder / HZDR)

The pilot plant is expected to demonstrate that industrial-scale hydrogen liquefaction can be carried out using the magnetocaloric principle, which in practical terms means producing more than five tons of liquid hydrogen every day. And at a lower cost than production using conventional methods. (Fountain: NCYT by Amazings)

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Written by Editor TLN

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