Graphene-based magnetocaloric composites for energy conversion

Abstract: In this study we present a simple, versatile and cost-effective method to fabricate innovative thermal conductive magnetocaloric composites, that offers a smart solution to manufacture active elements with desired geometries, overcoming the current thermal and mechanical limits of the most studied magnetocaloric materials. The composite is prepared by embedding powder of a magnetocaloric material in an epoxy matrix enriched by a graphene-based material, obtained by thermal exfoliation of graphite oxide. The graphene-enriched composite shows a significant improvement of the magnetocaloric time-response to the magnetic field, due to the formation of a 3D network that bridges the magnetocaloric particles and reduces the metal-matrix contact resistance, thus creating a percolation path for an efficient heat transfer. Because of the simplicity and scalability of the preparation method and the great enhancement in response time, these new functional composites represent an important step for the effective application of magnetocaloric materials in thermomagnetic devices for the energy conversion.

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