The experimental hall and storage ring building of the ESRF

Sus­tain­able mag­nets: PUMA helps the ener­gy transition

Pow­er­ful mag­nets can be used for effec­tive cool­ing, heat and pow­er gen­er­a­tion. They make a deci­sive con­tri­bu­tion to the ener­gy turn­around. A net­work led by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Duis­burg-Essen (UDE) is there­fore research­ing new mag­net­ic mate­ri­als that are effi­cient and envi­ron­men­tal­ly com­pat­i­ble. Part­ners in the PUMA project are the Tech­ni­cal Uni­ver­si­ty of Darm­stadt and the Helmholtz-Zen­trum Dres­den-Rossendorf (HZDR). The Ger­man Fed­er­al Min­istry of Edu­ca­tion and Research is fund­ing PUMA with two mil­lion euros for four years start­ing in October.

Whether in robot­ics, data stor­age or ener­gy con­ver­sion: mag­nets are already used in many areas. To pro­duce them, met­als and min­er­als are need­ed, most­ly rare earths. In the PUMA project (PUlsed high MAg­net­ic fields for new func­tion­al mag­net­ic mate­ri­als), the sci­en­tists are there­fore aim­ing to devel­op high­ly effi­cient mag­nets that do not require these raw mate­ri­als, which are avail­able in lim­it­ed quan­ti­ties and are there­fore clas­si­fied as critical.

“On the one hand, we are focus­ing on per­ma­nent mag­nets. These have max­i­mum effi­cien­cy and are used, for exam­ple, in motors for elec­tro­mo­bil­i­ty or in gen­er­a­tors for wind tur­bines,” explains project leader Prof. Dr. Heiko Wende from UDE. His col­league from TU Darm­stadt, Prof. Dr. Oliv­er Gut­fleisch, adds: “On the oth­er hand, we are research­ing new mate­ri­als that make use of the mag­ne­tocaloric effect. This means that var­i­ous met­als and alloys can change their tem­per­a­ture as soon as they are exposed to a mag­net­ic field. We are par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ed in using this phe­nom­e­non for sol­id-state-based cool­ing as a cli­mate-friend­ly alter­na­tive to con­ven­tion­al gas com­pres­sion cooling.”

The two uni­ver­si­ty project part­ners are already work­ing togeth­er suc­cess­ful­ly, for exam­ple in the DFG Col­lab­o­ra­tive Research Center/Transregio 270. For the inves­ti­ga­tions, the trio will now use the Euro­pean exper­i­men­tal sta­tion ESRF in Greno­ble, because it is one of the world’s most bril­liant facil­i­ties for syn­chro­tron radiation.

“In Greno­ble, we plan to set up a new pulsed high-field sys­tem on a beam­line,” explains Prof. Dr. Joachim Wos­nitza of the HZDR. “This will gen­er­ate mag­net­ic fields of more than 50 tes­las, which is one mil­lion times the Earth­’s mag­net­ic field. This will allow us to pre­cise­ly ana­lyze the inter­ac­tions that are essen­tial for the func­tion of mag­ne­tocaloric materials.”