Researchers at the Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory have successfully demonstrated the first room temperature, permanent-magnet, magnetic refrigerator. The Astronautics Corporation of America developed the refrigerator as part of a cooperative research and development agreement with Ames.

This rotary design refrigerator uses gadolinium metal that heats up when exposed to a magnetic field and cools down when the magnetic field is removed. The magnetic refrigerator eliminates the ozone-depleting refrigerants and energy-hungry compressors used in conventional vapor-style refrigerators.

Astronautics' goal with this initial success is to achieve larger temperature swings allowing the technology to provide the cooling power required for specific markets, such as home refrigerators and air conditioning.

Ames is currently developing a process that can outperform the gadolinium powders in the rotary magnetic refrigerator. All of its magnetic refrigerators are still under testing.