As our society grows increasingly dependent on the transformative power of gadgets, the need for more efficient cooling mechanisms for our devices cannot be overemphasized. Increased computing ability and faster processing speed translate to even more heat loss in the PC.
Unfortunately, the effect of overheating is slower processing speed, and in the worst case, an abrupt shut down which might cause further damage to the system. Does this spell doom for everyone in need of increased computing power? No! In fact, according to a recent report published in the ASC journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, liquids imbued with nanoparticles present a revolutionary way to cool down devices.
This is what we shall discuss in this post.
The Evolution of Cooling Mechanisms in Electronics
As noted earlier, the power demands of applications and functionalities in a device dictate the levels of heat generated in that device. Cooling mechanisms have always been an integral component of electronics that manage the generation of heat in devices. Up until now, fans and liquid coolants have been the most widely used cooling mechanisms for consumer devices.
For large-scale electronic installations such as mainframe computer systems used in data centers, cooling mechanisms used have often been temperature-regulated rooms and advanced liquid cooling systems. However, the need for cooling mechanisms with greater efficiency has always been ever-present.
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The Future of Cooling Mechanisms
A ground-breaking cooling mechanism has been developed by a group of researchers sponsored by the Malaysian Ministry of Education. This latest development is based on the fact that substances called nanofluids have an unparalleled potential to cool off electronics. Nanofluids are basically liquids like water infused with metallic nanoparticles. The team of researchers doubled down on the potentials of nanofluids by finding the most efficient nanofluids.
The researchers tested out three nanofluids to analyze their coolant traits using a medium called a microchannel heat sink to replicate the warm environment of a running device. The attributes tested for include heat transfer, energy retention, friction capacity, and pumping power. All three fluids outperformed water and other coolants with respect to these attributes, with the nanofluid composite of water and copper oxide proving to be the most outstanding.
How Nanofluids Work
Nanofluids have proved to significantly minimize thermal discharge in electronic devices. The groundbreaking studies on nanofluids were contingent on analytical models involving the passing of different nanofluids at 0.5 m/s through a rectangular-shaped microchannel heat sink that has a constant heat flux. The nanofluids used were basically water containing 0.4 – 2.0 vol % of copper oxide (CuO), aluminum oxide (Al203), and titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles.
According to the results of the study, thermal resistance and volume percentage of nanofractions share an inverse relationship. The study also showed that the energy efficiency of the heat sink was directly proportional to the volume fraction of the nanoparticles. The most outstanding nanofluid was the CuO-water, which performed best in terms of reducing thermal resistance and enhancing pressure reduction. It also gave rise to a maximum energy efficiency of 98.9% in the heat sink, whereas the Al203-water and TiO2-water generated a maximum efficiency of 77.5% and 68.4% respectively.
The results also showed that the friction factor of the heat sink reduced with an increase in the volume concentration of the nanoparticles, and the pumping power increased proportionately with the volume percentage of the nanoparticles.
As the cooling mechanisms in electronics are bound to become more efficient in the future, we can expect more powerful devices to become available for regular consumers in the future. We also know that nanofluids can support the production of even more powerful electronic devices without the fear of overheating.