Barocal wins £1.3m for zero-carbon refrigeration tech

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Cambridge University spin-out Barocal has secured a £1.3m investment for commercialisation of its novel zero-carbon refrigeration technology that also works in heating applications.

Barocal
Dr Xavier Moya, Barocal co- founder

Instead of using refrigerant gases with high global warming potential, Barocal’s technology uses new solid-state, temperature-changing materials that are cheap and non-toxic. The organic materials release and absorb heat at different pressures as they change volume. Known as barocaloric materials, they are more efficient than fluid refrigerants, and as they are solids, more eco-friendly and easier to recycle at product end-of-life.

The Barocal team now plans to explore the potential of its tech for domestic and commercial heating systems, hoping to provide a cost-effective, efficient alternative to expensive air source heat pumps.

Dr Xavier Moya, who co-founded Barocal based on his research in Cambridge University’s Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy, explained that heating and cooling accounts for 38 per cent of the UK’s CO2 emissions, so the government’s commitment to a 78 per cent cut in 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 not practical for many homes,” Moya said in a statement. “Barocal's revolutionary new heat pump, based on non-vapour compression technology, holds the promise of a cost-effective, efficient and environmentally friendly solution for domestic and commercial heating systems as well as air conditioning and refrigeration.”

The £1.3m investment was led by IP Group. Investment director for IP Group, Eva Kirkby Leary, said that Barocal is perfectly aligned with the group’s mission to generate positive social and environmental impact.

Cambridge Enterprise, the university’s commercialisation arm, has also participated in funding as part of a new sustainability initiative. Over the next four years, it aims to support at least 15 of the university’s spin-outs and start-ups working on technology that will rapidly cut GHG emissions.

The work on Barocal’s technology began as a joint project between the Department of Materials and Metallurgy at Cambridge University, the Polytechnic University of Catalonia and the University of Barcelona. Barocal has a licence for the technology from Cambridge Enterprise.