Louisiana Company Licenses LSU Physicists’ Industry-Changing Discovery

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESLSU Physics Professor Shane Stadler and colleagues discovered a breakthrough material that may change the heating and cooling industry. A Louisiana company called Magnetic Cool LLC licensed this material and is developing a prototype that could provide more efficient and environmentally friendly refrigeration and air conditioning systems. Stadler’s invention eliminates the use of harmful fluorocarbons and can reduce energy usage by 20 to 50 percent in residential and commercial heating and cooling systems.

Stadler discovered a material whose temperature will increase through application of a magnetic field, a property described as a magnetocaloric effect. The excess heat is removed through a thermal medium such as water or air, which brings the material back to ambient temperature. For cooling, the magnetic field is removed, and its temperature drops below ambient temperature. Throughout the process, the material remains in a solid state, which is significantly more energy efficient than the conventional, compressed gas systems currently on the market today.

The Department of Energy initially funded Stadler and his collaborator, Professor Naushad Ali, to conduct their research on magnetocaloric materials at Southern Illinois University. His efforts were also supported by the LSU Leverage Innovation for Technology Transfer, or LIFT2, grant developed by the LSU Board of Supervisors to help LSU faculty commercialize their research.

“We could not have proceeded with the necessary testing without the seed funding from LIFT2,” Stadler said. “There are many reports, financial and scientific, that predict new solid state cooling technologies, including magnetocaloric, which will emerge into the consumer market in the next few years. This new development at LSU could have a positive impact not only on the energy industry but also for economic development in Louisiana.”

Magnetic Cool LLC recently licensed the technology and has plans to further develop Stadler’s magnetocaloric material for an environmentally sound and energy efficient solution for the refrigeration and air conditioning markets.

“Magnetic Cool was formed to commercialize a breakthrough in solid state refrigeration that has the potential to solve a worldwide problem with harmful fluorocarbon gases used in conventional systems while dramatically reducing energy consumption,” said Herbert Presley, managing partner of Magnetic Cool. “Magnetic Cool has followed Dr. Stadler’s research for the last two years and has officially licensed the technology and is looking to generate interest from industry partners to help bring this to market.”

Stadler’s research focuses on the next generation of magnetic cooling technologies, which are simpler in design, quieter and more environmentally friendly than conventional compressed-gas systems currently used.

“Shane Stadler’s research is a brilliant example of how LSU is bringing inventions and innovations from idea to the marketplace,” said Andrew Maas, director of the Office of Innovation & Technology Commercialization at LSU. “Working with Magnetic Cool demonstrates the strength of matching LSU research to drive innovation and commercialization that enhance the community and benefit the public.”

Stadler’s team’s technological discovery is a promising alternative.

“The world refrigeration market is expected to increase by about $7 billion by 2018, to approximately $47 billion annually,” Stadler said. Therefore, his breakthrough may have a significant economic impact as well as an impact on the energy industry and environment.

“We’ve studied these systems for a long time, and were fortunate to discover a system in which a magnetic transition coincided in temperature with a structural transition,” Stadler said. “That this magnetostructural transition occurs near room temperature is what makes it a strong candidate for magnetocaloric cooling devices of the future.”

After further testing, Magnetic Cool will explore commercialization opportunities utilizing the magnetocaloric material for the heating and cooling industry. For more information, please contact magnetocaloric@lsu.edu.

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