A startup launched from a research group at Harvard University has secured $8 million in funding to support development of high-efficiency heat pumps, air conditioners and refrigerators based on its low pressure, solid refrigerant-based system.

Pascal is using a novel class of solid barocaloric refrigerants based on metal-halide perovskites, operating at lower pressures than previously possible. Barocaloric materials work similarly to traditional gas-liquid cooling systems, using pressure changes to go through heat cycles, but in this case, the pressure drives aSource: PascalSource: Pascal solid-to-solid phase change. The material remains a solid but the internal molecular structure changes in a process that releases heat.

“We’ve not only discovered a new class of solid materials ideal for refrigeration, we’ve also identified a new way to use pressure to induce phase transitions in these solid materials. This allows us to drive heating and cooling cycles with significantly reduced energy input,” said Jinyoung Seo, co-founder and chief technology officer of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Pascal. “Over the past two years, we’ve driven down the operating pressures of our solid refrigerants by several orders of magnitude, unlocking cost-effective systems that can work with existing HVAC compressors and components.”

These refrigerants can be incorporated into heating and cooling systems manufactured within the existing industrial ecosystem, using off-the-shelf parts from the conventional HVAC component supply chain. Additional benefits include zero direct refrigerant emissions and energy efficiency gains of up to 80%.

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