Institute of Assembly Technology and Robotics Research Finalised Projects
Cooling concepts based on electrocaloric materials

Cooling concepts based on electrocaloric materials

Team:  Phillip Blumenthal
Year:  2012
Funding:  DFG
Is Finished:  yes

Electrocaloric materials belong as other caloric materials to the group of the active materials and show a temperature change under the influence of an electric field. The height of the temperature difference depends on the material used as well as the applied electric field and can reach up to about 30 K. The theoretical efficiency is significantly higher than that of Peltier elements or liquid-based cooling systems. However, a disadvantage is the relatively small range of operation temperature which is again material dependent. For applications that temperature range, the exploitation of the electrocaloric effect promises great potential. This is particularly the case in systems with limited energy, for example in e-mobility.

Problem statement 

Research on electrocalorics has so far been focused on the analysis and development of electrocaloric materials such as PZT. To use these materials now in electrocaloric cooling systems, methods for their integration have to be designed. Various factors must be considered. Firstly, it is important to find ways to connect individual electrocaloric elements and to establish a directed heat flow from heat source to sink. Active and passive coupling of individual elements to form complete systems are to be considered. Secondly, the activation of the individual elements in the context of the overall system must be realized. Therefore, specialized control systems are necessary. The design of the electrical, thermal and mechanical components is also a critical aspect of the development of electrocaloric cooling systems.


The Institute for Machine Tools and Production Technology (IWF) of the Technical University of Braunschweig is investigating cooling elements and systems for automotive applications based on electrocaloric materials. This research is done in project B7 "Methodological Development and Design of Electrocaloric Cooling Systems for Electric Vehicle Applications" within the DFG Priority Program SPP 1599 "Caloric Effects in Ferroic Materials: New Concepts for Cooling ". The goal is to realize efficient cooling systems with a compact and lightweight design. Furthermore, the developed systems are to be characterized and tested for fatigue, reliability and commercial applicability.

Project profile

Funding: German Research Foundation (DFG), Teilprojekt B7 im SPP 1599/1: (on

Laufzeit: 12/2012-11/2015