Barocal and Grant Instruments: pioneering a radical new approach to refrigeration

How do you make refrigeration devices smaller, lighter, less polluting, more energy-efficient and more accurate? The short answer: ditch the compressor and the gas.

We are partnering with Barocal Ltd, a spin-out of the University of Cambridge, to develop a cooling system which uses the novel cooling and heating effects of barocaloric materials as a zero-carbon alternative to gas-compression cooling and heating. It also has the potential to completely eliminate hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants which are extremely potent greenhouse gases. The company eventually aims to partner with manufacturers of air conditioning and refrigeration systems to deliver its safe, non-toxic, zero HFC technology to global markets.

The project will deliver a zero HFC, energy efficient cooling system combined with a new method for precise temperature control, using scientific cooling baths as a demonstrator system. The objectives are to develop barocaloric cooling technology that can:

  • precisely cool and control the temperature of fluids and cooling baths used in research and industrial laboratories
  • demonstrate replacement of gas-compression refrigerants in a small market with early adopter capability


The project builds upon an Innovate UK funded SMART feasibility study in which cooling was created by the barocaloric effect when an organic solid is subjected to changes in pressure. This transformative technology originates from the research of Dr Xavier Moya and his team at the Department of Materials Science at the University of Cambridge, in collaboration with Universitat de Barcelona and Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya in Spain.

Grant Instruments brings decades of know-how and innovation in scientific refrigeration, used to develop and build products which are exported to all parts of the world. Our investment in the project is one of several energy efficiency and climate change projects that reflect our ongoing commitment to be at the forefront of environmental sustainability and efficiency.

Will Averdieck, Managing Director of Barocal said on the collaboration: “We wanted to work with Grant Instruments because they are more than a manufacturer – they share our passion for refrigeration science and its applications in society. Our ground-breaking technical innovation, with Grant’s industrialisation know-how, will enable us to develop refrigeration products which help the world get to zero carbon more quickly”.

Mark Davison, CEO at Grant Instruments, reinforces the focus on innovation at Grant: “We’ve been pioneering new things for nearly seventy years, for customers like CERN, NASA, and many universities and corporations. Barocal’s revolutionary technology fits well with our strategic plan for the future and we look forward to helping them to grow and succeed”.

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