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The MagLab is funded by the National Science Foundation and the State of Florida.


The lab has four chillers.
The lab has four chillers.

The Magnet Lab relies on four chillers for the big job of keeping the biggest magnets cool.

Massive amounts of energy, in the form of electricity, are pumped into the MagLab's resistive magnets. All that energy produces tremendous heat in the magnets, which is removed through a very thoughtfully engineered chilled water system. Four powerful chillers play a key role in this system.

Although they use freon, the same stuff that's in your fridge at home, these machines cool a lot more than cucumbers. With a rating of 2,000 tons (a reference to chilling capacity, not weight), each of our four chillers is 400 times more powerful than a residential A/C system. If the lab was in the ice business, we could crank out 2 billion cubes a day. In fact, in addition to cooling magnet water, this system air-conditions the entire MagLab – no small feat during sultry Tallahassee summers.

Each 16.5-ton (as in weight) chiller puts about 3,625 kg (8,000 pounds) of refrigerant (R-22) through the same heat transfer cycle repeated (on a much smaller scale) inside your fridge dozens of times a day: it’s compressed, condensed, expanded and evaporated, drawing heat away from the warm water.

By Kristen Coyne

Last modified on 02 December 2022