Quantitative feasibility study of magnetocaloric energy conversion utilizing industrial waste heat
The main objective of this theoretical study was to investigate under which conditions a magnetic energy conversion device (MECD) - utilizing industrial waste heat - is economically feasible. Furthermore, it was evaluated if magnetic energy conversion (MCE) has the potential of being a serious concurrent to already existing conventional energy conversion technologies. Up-today the availability of magnetocaloric materials with a high Curie temperature and a high magnetocaloric effect is rather limited. Therefore, this study was mainly focused on applications with heat sources of low to medium temperature levels. Magnetic energy conversion machines, containing permanent magnets, are numerically investigated for operation conditions with different temperature levels, defined by industrial waste heat sources and environmental heat sinks, different magnetic field intensities and different frequencies of operation (number of thermodynamic cycles per unit of time). Theoretical modeling and numerical simulations were performed in order to determine thermodynamic efficiencies and the exergy efficiencies as function of different operation conditions. From extracted data of our numerical results, approximate values of the total mass and total volume of magnetic energy conversion machines could be determined. These important results are presented dependent on the produced electric power. An economic feasibility study supplements the scientific study. It shows an excellent potential of profitability for certain machines. The most important result of this article is that the magnetic energy conversion technology can be economically and technically competitive to or even beat conventional energy conversion technologies. This is true especially in those cases when large, low-exergy heat sources are at one's disposal. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.