Cambridge University spinout, Barocal, has secured a £1.3m investment to commercialize its new carbon-free cooling technology that also works in heating applications.
Instead of using refrigerant gases with a high global warming potential, Barocal’s technology uses new solid, temperature-changing materials that are inexpensive and non-toxic. The organic materials give off heat and absorb it at different pressures as they change volume. Known as barocaloric materials, they are more efficient than liquid refrigerants, and because they are solids, they are more environmentally friendly and easier to recycle at the end of the product’s life.
The Barocal team now plans to explore the potential of its technology for domestic and commercial heating systems, in hopes of providing a cost-effective, efficient alternative to expensive air-to-water heat pumps.
dr. Xavier Moya, co-founder of Barocal based on his research at the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy at the University of Cambridge, explained that heating and cooling are responsible for 38 per cent of UK CO2 emissions, so the pledge from the Commission government to cut emissions by 2035 will require new low-carbon domestic heating systems.
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“Current alternatives, such as hydrogen boilers and traditional heat pumps, are expensive and impractical for many homes,” Moya said in a statement. “Barocal’s revolutionary new heat pump, based on non-vapor compression technology, promises a cost-effective, efficient and environmentally friendly solution for domestic and commercial heating systems, as well as air conditioning and refrigeration.”
The £1.3 million investment was led by: IP group† Investment Director for IP Group, Eva Kirkby Leary, said Barocal aligns perfectly with the group’s mission to generate positive social and environmental impact.
Cambridge Enterprise, the commercialization arm of the university, also participated in the funding as part of a new sustainability initiative. Over the next four years, it aims to support at least 15 of the university’s spinouts and start-ups working on technology that will rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Work on Barocal’s technology began as a joint project between the Department of Materials and Metallurgy at the University of Cambridge, the Polytechnic University of Catalonia and the University of Barcelona. Barocal has licensed the technology from Cambridge Enterprise.