Enhancing Cooling with Magnetic Nanoparticles
We all know how important cooling is in our computers and can imagine how important it is in even larger devices. This is why so much is invested in developing better cooling systems. Researchers at MIT have recently found a rather intriguing means to improve cooling using magnets.
Many systems, such as power plants and some computers, use water to remove heat. As the water flows through a pipe and over a heat source, it picks up the thermal energy, and carries it away. Many techniques have been developed to improve that process, such as adding structures to the pipes, to increase surface area or pumping the water faster, which can be expensive and require a lot of energy. This new technique instead adds nanoparticles of magnetite to the water. Magnetite is a kind of iron oxide and, as the name suggests, is magnetic. By then placing a magnet on the outside of the pipes, the particles are drawn towards one side of the pipe, which disrupts the water flow and increases the temperature gradient of the water in that area. The end effect is an increase in performance by as much as 300%.
Though this is currently just a promising study, it could one day have implications in fusion reactors and our computers. Part of that impact could be from strategically placing the magnets, to cool particular hotspots better.