Magnoric part of new network to build first realistic thermomagnetic generator for waste heat recovery.
TU Delft leads HEAT4ENERGY, a European consortium dedicated to the development of thermomagnetic devices and new materials for recovering heat from data centers, the food, pulp and paper industries, and converting this waste heat into electricity. This project brings together all the requirements: energy transition, decarbonization, low- and high-power devices for converting waste heat into electricity, energy storage, finding alternatives for essential raw materials, developing new materials and, above all, training a new generation of European experts.
On January 30 and 31, 2024, the HEAT4ENERGY project was officially launched. HEAT4ENERGY is a four-year MSCA EU-Horizon Europe doctoral network project aimed at training a new generation of European energy transition facilitators. They will acquire these skills in practice by taking on the challenge of making the first realistic, energy-efficient thermomagnetic devices to convert low-grade waste heat (<100°C) into electricity. They will also learn how to develop these devices and advance the technology to market viability. They will gain the interdisciplinary skills needed to bring this green technology to maturity, as well as career prospects in the academic and non-academic sectors implementing the European Green Deal.
Energy production and use account for over 75% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions. It is therefore essential to decarbonize the EU’s energy system to meet our 2030 climate targets and the EU’s long-term strategy to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. It’s clear that solar and wind energy will play an important role in any future energy scenario, but these intermittent sources pose significant challenges in terms of energy transport and storage. At the same time, a great deal of low-grade heat is produced, for example in data centers, the food industry, pulp and paper, and is available 24/7. Converting even a small percentage of this heat into electricity is important because of the amount of heat lost just above ambient temperature. However, there are no efficient technologies for converting this low-grade heat in an economically rational way. In this project, we will develop thermomagnetic energy harvesting from the current TRL 3/4 proof-of-principle into an efficient and cost-competitive TRL 6/7 technology.
Demonstrators for conversion of waste heat to electricity
We will construct and experimentally validate three efficient demonstrators for the conversion of waste heat into electricity in the power range of 10 μW, 1 W and 100 W.
Andrej Kitanovski, University of Ljubljana: We will show that thermomagnetic energy harvesting can be an energy-efficient and compact technology capable of addressing existing and future power generation challenges. Special attention will be paid to the utilization of various low grade heat sources from a minimum of 40 to a maximum of 100 °C, which account for about 40 % of waste heat from industrial processes. For these, especially below 60-80°C, there is a lack of available, scalable, cost-effective and energy-efficient technologies for the conversion of waste heat into electricity. We will train PhD students and enable knowledge and technology transfer in the multidisciplinary fields of model-based engineering, fabrication technology, characterization and evaluation of innovative thermomagnetic generators from micro to macro scale.
Tailor made Materials
Materials research will focus on materials preparation, shaping and functional characterization.
Anja Waske, Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung (BAM): “In the work package materials fabrication and characterization, an interdisciplinary team from materials science and engineering together with industrial partners will develop optimal materials and shapes for a new generation of thermomagnetic energy harvesting devices. We will synthesize, shape and characterize thermomagnetic materials and parts that efficiently transfer waste heat and convert it into electrical energy. Additionally, the parts must sustain numerous thermomagnetic cycles with negligible mechanical fatigue or corrosion. In-situ experiments in the final demonstrators will show the performance of these tailor made materials.”
Materials design and modelling
Focus is on the combination of physics simulations spanning different length scales and machine learning based optimization of chemical compositions and microstructures for materials.
Gilles de Wijs, Radboud University: “In this project we aim to predict optimal thermomagnetic materials, tailored to the operating conditions and system dimensions, using an extended in silico scanning method end exploiting novel AI. It is an exciting collaboration, joining key computational expertise from groups in Austria and The Netherlands.”
The increasing cost for energy makes their efficient use decisive for all types industry. This includes the need for recovering waste heat, but in particular for low-grade waste heat no mature technology is available today.
Sebastian Fähler, Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf: “As our project aims to close this gap, we appreciate to come into contact with industrial partners. A collaboration is of particular interest for industries not yet recovering their large amount of waste heat, requiring off-grid electricity and to power IoT, or developing other heat recovery devices. We expect benefit for both, as we learn more on dedicated requirements and can then address these particular needs. Collaboration is possible by participating in workshops, discussing in panels, or by additional joint projects.”
Training of a next generation of experts
Franca Albertini, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche: “The European Energy Transition relies on a new generation of highly educated professionals active in all the societal sectors (e.g. industry, public institutions, academia) and able to evaluate and adopt new energy technologies and strategies. To achieve this goal HEAT4ENERGY Doctoral Network training is multidisciplinary and include different fields of engineering, physics and material science, combined with specific teachings focused on innovation and entrepreneurship, sustainable development and environmental protection. ”
Broad representation of specialists on thermomagnetic materials
An interdisciplinary consortium, lead by Delft University of Technology, including Karlsruher Institut für Technology, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, Bundesanstalt für Material-forschung und –prüfung, Univerza V Ljubljani, Radboud University, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique CNRS, Universitat fur Weiterbildung Krems, Magneto B.V., memetis GmbH, Magnoric, Universita Degli Studi di Parma, Technische Universität Dresden, Université Grenoble Alpes and Technische Universität Wien address all major challenges for this emerging technology, which requires innovative designs of more efficient thermomagnetic generators, that are intimately connected with tailored thermomagnetic materials. Prof. E.H. (Ekkes) Brück of Delft University of Technology will be the coordinator of the 2.7 M€ project funded by European Commission under Grant Agreement no. 101119852.
The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions of the European Commission fund excellent research and innovation and equip researchers at all stages of their career with new knowledge and skills, through mobility across borders and exposure to different sectors and disciplines. The MSCA help build Europe’s capacity for research and innovation by investing in the long-term careers of excellent researchers.