High-purity Gd prepared by distillation is a structurally inhomogeneous system consisting of needle-shaped crystals of cross section 0.5–2.5 μm with near-c-axis orientation embedded in a matrix of nanosized (30–100 nm) grains. By measuring the magnetocaloric effect (MCE) directly, we find that the MCE values differ markedly for the plate-shaped samples cut out of a distillate along and perpendicular to the crystals. The effect of small controlled amounts of impurity (hydrogen) on the properties of distilled Gd is further studied. We observe opposite trends in the MCE response to hydrogen charging with respect to the crystal's orientation within the samples and discuss mechanisms interrelating the unique structural morphology with the impurity behavior. As an overall assessment, the Curie temperatures of α-GdHx solid solutions increase from 291 K up to 294 K when increasing hydrogen concentration x from 0 to 0.15. Hydrogenation is found to broaden the ferromagnetic-to-paramagnetic phase transition. Hydrogen-containing specimens demonstrate reversibility of MCE at these temperatures.

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