Hysteresis is more than just an interesting oddity that occurs in materials with a first-order transition. It is a real obstacle on the path from existing laboratory-scale prototypes of magnetic refrigerators towards commercialization of this potentially disruptive cooling technology. Indeed, the reversibility of the magnetocaloric effect, being essential for magnetic heat pumps, strongly depends on the width of the thermal hysteresis and, therefore, it is necessary to understand the mechanisms causing hysteresis and to find solutions to minimize losses associated with thermal hysteresis in order to maximize the efficiency of magnetic cooling devices. In this work, we discuss the fundamental aspects that can contribute to thermal hysteresis and the strategies that we are developing to at least partially overcome the hysteresis problem in some selected classes of magnetocaloric materials with large application potential. In doing so, we refer to the most relevant classes of magnetic refrigerants La–Fe–Si-, Heusler- and Fe2P-type compounds.
This article is part of the themed issue ‘Taking the temperature of phase transitions in cool materials’.
One contribution of 16 to a discussion meeting issue ‘Taking the temperature of phase transitions in cool materials’.
- Accepted May 25, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.