Thermoacoustic devices use an intense sound to produce cooling or, in a reverse way, a heat source to produce a sound, working efficiently as motors, heat pumps, refrigerators or trithermal machines.
At IPN, thermoacoustic activities are foreseen as an interesting way of cooling at cryogenic temperature without using cryofluids. Supported by the EU within the FP7, the THATEA project (Jan 2009 - Dec 2011) aimed at developing and coupling thermoacoustic coolers with thermoacoustic wave generators (motors), achieving thermodynamic efficiencies of more than 40% of the Carnot’s efficiency. IPN and its partners have designed, constructed and tested a refrigerator producing 600W of cooling power at a temperature of -25°C with a maximum efficiency of 33%. The laboratory has also designed a thermoacoustic wave generator providing an intense sound to study non linear acoustic flows and carried out a technological survey on the design and construction of thermoacoustic compact heat exchangers.
IPN has also led a second project TACSOL which was supported by the National Agency for Research (ANR) in the framework of its PRECODD-2008 program (PRogramme ECOtechnologies et Développement Durable). The goal is to build up a solar thermoacoustic cooler. Solar radiation is collected by a parabolic dish and focused onto a receiver placed in a cavity. This receiver requires an appropriate thermal design to collect at 700 °C the varying incident solar energy efficiently and to transmit heat to the working fluid of a tri-thermal thermoacoustic machine : helium gas being at a pressure of 42 bars. The thermoacoustic device then produces 1 kW to cool a cold (-25 °C) energetic storage (latent and sensitive processes).