Magnetic Field Makes Wine Chill

I’m a fan of wine. I don’t dare say a connoisseur because I certainly don’t know much about the wine I drink other than I know reds shouldn’t be chilled and all other wines should. I also know if I drink too much wine I am worthless the next day, but that’s neither here nor there.

So why am I writing about wine when my audience is in the chemical industry? There could be several answers to that, but the most recent one: BASF has teamed with Haier, a manufacturer of household appliances and Astronautics Corp. of America, a technology company, to wow the crowd at this week’s International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The product: a proof of concept wine cooler refrigerated by a magnetocaloric heat pump.

According to a press release, magnetocaloric materials heat up when put in a magnetic field and cool down when removed from the magnetic field. In the magnetocaloric heat pump, heat is transferred from the cold interior of the wine cooler to the warm surrounding air by shuttling a water based coolant through the magnetocaloric materials as they go in and out of the magnetic field.

BASF’s role was to provide a class of functional materials based on manganese and iron developed by the German company and its partner Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. The magnetocaloric materials consist of abundant and affordable raw materials. They feature high performance across the whole range of temperatures relevant to refrigeration as well as high volume stability under operating conditions. BASF will sell these materials under the Quice brand.

Astronautics provided the specialized expertise to integrate the new materials into the magnetocaloric heat pump. Haier contributed their knowledge of household appliances and led the prototype development of the wine cooler.


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Traci Purdum is Chemical Processing's digital edtior and resident wine drinker. You can email her at tpurdum@putman.net.

To learn more about the functional principle, check out the short video.