University of Ljubljana’s Faculty of Mechanical Engineering Wins Second ERC Project

date: 20.08.2018

category: Sporočila za javnost

 

With its breakthrough ideas, the University of Ljubljana’s Faculty of Mechanical Engineering convinced the European Research Council (ERC) to award it a grant for the second time; this time, amounting to nearly €1.4m, the grant is for the project with the acronym SUPERCOOL: Superelastic Porous Structures for Efficient Elastocaloric Cooling. The project’s final goal is the development of an elastocaloric cooling device, which may be the first major breakthrough in cooling in over a century, with increased efficiency and reduced environmental pollution. Once successfully developed, the proposed cooling concept will be of great utility for different areas of cooling technology, from miniature to large cooling systems and heat pumps.

Assistant Professor Jaka Tušek PhD is Slovenia’s first and only successful applicant for Horizon 2020 Programme’s ERC Starting Grant, which he will use to establish his first independent research team of six researchers for the next five years. With this grant, he became the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering second researcher, in addition to Professor Matevž Dular PhD, to receive funding from the European Research Council. As part of the project, he will analyse the key elements of elastocaloric cooling technology, which, according to many estimates, evidences the highest potential as an alternative to today’s widely applicable vapour-compression cooling technology, which, even though it has been further developed in the more than 100 years since its inception, is still relatively energy inefficient and its utilisation ecologically debatable.

Elastocaloric cooling is based on the elastocaloric effect that is perceived as the heating up and cooling down of superelastic shape-memory materials. The SUPERCOOL Project will discuss two key challenges of the elastocaloric cooling technology. The first challenge is the development of the superelastic or elastocaloric porous structure, that is, the crucial element of an elastocaloric cooling system that will provide a sufficient fatigue life and mechanical stability, as well as a fast and efficient heat transfer. The second challenge is the development of a compatible and efficient drive system for applying loads to elastocaloric structures that will also ensure an efficient energy use. The proposed elastocaloric cooling technology concept can thus be applied in a large range of systems, from miniature systems (e.g. for the cooling of electronic parts), air conditioners, as well as all the way to large-scale cooling systems and heat pumps.

The responsible person for the project, Assistant Professor Jaka Tušek PhD said: “In addition to elastocaloric cooling technology, the findings of the SUPERCOOL Project will also impact numerous other, also wider fields, especially medicine, civil, and mechanical engineering, where shape-memory materials have been applied widely, however their potential and limitations are not yet known well enough.

 

ABOUT ASSISTANT PROFESSOR JAKA TUŠEK

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Assistant Professor Jaka Tušek PhD was born in 1983, graduated in 2007, and awarded his Doctorate in 2012 by the University of Ljubljana’s Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. Pursuant to gaining his Doctorate, he worked at the Technical University of Denmark as a postdoctoral researcher for more than two years, proving the exceptional potential of elastocaloric cooling technology. This research was published in the prestigious magazine Nature Energy (https://www.nature.com/articles/nenergy2016134). At the same time, this preliminary research illustrates two key challenges for future elastocaloric cooling technology development, which Jaka will analyse as part of his proposed breakthrough SUPERCOOL Project.

 

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