In order to demonstrate the potential of magnetic refrigeration to provide useful cooling near room temperature, Astronautics Corporation of America constructed a rotary magnetic refrigerator (RMR) in 2001. The RMR uses the active magnetic regenerator (AMR) cycle with an aqueous heat transfer fluid. The required change in magnetic field is produced by the rotation of a wheel packed with porous beds of magnetocaloric material through a 1.5 T Nd2Fe14B permanent magnet with steel flux concentration poles. A pump, and valves mounted to the wheel, control heat transfer fluid flow through the magnetocaloric beds and heat exchangers. This rotary design allows quiet, reliable operation over a range of frequencies (0.5-4 Hz), heat transfer fluid flow rates and cooling power. The performance of the device using Gd and Gd alloy spherical particles is reported and analyzed. We also describe the performance effects of introducing layered beds and an La(Fe1-xSix)13Hy alloy with a first order magnetic transition.
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