Effects of hysteresis and Brayton cycle constraints on magnetocaloric refrigerant performance
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© 2018 Author(s). Despite promising proofs of concept, system-level implementation of magnetic refrigeration has been critically limited by history-dependent refrigerant losses that interact with governing thermodynamic cycles to adversely impact refrigeration performance. Future development demands a more detailed understanding of how hysteresis limits performance, and of how different types of cycles can mitigate these limitations, but without the extreme cost of experimental realization. Here, the utility of Brayton cycles for magnetic refrigeration is investigated via direct simulation, using a combined thermodynamic-hysteresis modeling framework to compute the path-dependent magnetization and entropy of a model alloy for a variety of feasible Brayton cycles between 0-1.5 T and 0-5 T. By simultaneously varying the model alloy's hysteresis properties and applying extensions of the thermodynamic laws to non-equilibrium systems, heat transfers and efficiencies are quantified throughout the space of hystereses and Brayton cycles and then compared with a previous investigation using Ericsson cycles. It is found that (1) hysteresis losses remain a critical obstacle to magnetic refrigeration implementation, with efficiencies >80% in the model system requiring hysteresis <0.5 K at 1.5 T; (2) optimal-efficiency Brayton cycles for given field and hysteresis constraints exist and are determined uniquely by the refrigerant transformation temperatures at the relevant fields; (3) for a given hysteresis and field constraint, Brayton and Ericsson-type cycles generate similar efficiencies; for a given temperature span, Ericsson cycles lift more heat per cycle, with the difference decreasing with the refrigerant heat capacity outside the phase transformation region.
author list (cited authors)
Brown, T. D., Buffington, T., & Shamberger, P. J.