Cambridge Enterprise is the commercialisation office of the University of Cambridge. We support staff, researchers and students wishing to commercialise their expertise and ideas for the benefit of the global community. Our teams provide assistance for consultancy projects, licensing opportunities and start-up companies.
Typical commercially available cooling equipment such as refrigerators or air conditioning systems use liquid-vapour-phase (LVP) cycles to achieve the temperature reduction. However such devices are known to suffer from environmental issues including noise and the risk of leakage of volatile hydrocarbons.
Solid state refrigerants offer the promise of significantly decreased noise, size and environmental impact, but to-date have not achieved sufficient cooling performance compared with the currently available systems. Researchers at the University of Cambridge, together with colleagues at the Universitat de Barcelona and the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, have now identified a new class of solid state compounds which can provide similar cooling under equivalent pressure changes to those used in conventional LVP cycles, using inexpensive raw materials and at operating temperatures around room temperature (but which can be tailored across a wider range according to the particular requirements).
This opens up the possibility of improved user experience and efficiency in traditional applications, and also the opportunity for new cooling applications where noise, size or choice of materials has restricted the use to date.