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John O | October 2017

White Paper outlines the use of nanofluids in electronics cooling


Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc. (ATS) recently posted a white paper on the use of nanofluids in electronics cooling applications, authored by Dr. Reza Azizian, which was originally published by the Power Sources Manufacturers Association (PSMA) as part of the organization’s roadmap of future technologies.

 


The white paper explores applications for nanofluids. (Wikimedia Commons)

 

The white paper gave a basic overview of nanoparticles and nanofluids, including definitions of terms, selecting criteria for engineers, market trends, basic applications, and challenges that nanofluids have presented to the electronics cooling industry.

 

“The addition of nanoparticles to a base fluid enhances thermal conductivity and viscosity of the resultant nanofluids,” Dr. Azizian wrote. “The degree of enhancement depends on various factors such as volume fraction of the particles being added, particle shape, etc. The reasons for the enhancement are attributed to several microscopic phenomena including particle dynamic effect, liquid layering on the surface of the nanoparticles, and particle clustering.”

 

The paper outlines the basic equations that can be used to determine the improvement in thermal conductivity that comes from adding nanoparticles to a base fluid and the impact that a nanofluid would have on a liquid cooling system. By adding nanofluids, engineers can significantly improve the thermal conductivity of a coolant without increasing the pumping power.

 

There are a number of markets in which nanofluids are applicable and many of those industries are already taking advantage of this relatively recent technology. Among the industries that Dr. Azizian noted were nuclear and solar power, power electronics and semiconductors, and heat pipes.

 

In addition, nanofluids are now following the lead of liquid cooling in general and becoming popular in smaller applications, such as computers, servers, IGBT cooling, and more.

 

“The idea of using liquid cooling for power electronics applications is no longer confined to theoretical observations or laboratory experiments,” explained Dr. Azizian. “There is widespread use of heat pipes, for example, and personal computers frequently incorporate elaborate liquid cooling systems. Nanofluids represent an enhancement to the technologies that are increasingly being used for cooling electronics.”

 

Ongoing research into engineered fluids is concentrating on the effect of boiling and immersion cooling, which has demonstrated significant enhancement in cooling, as much as 200 percent according to the paper. New materials are also being researched, including carbon nanotubes and other nanoparticles.

 

The biggest challenge for nanofluids is that the technology is still relatively young. The phrase nanofluid was only coined in the early 1990s and there are few studies that detail how nanofluids would impact a system in the long-term.

 

“There is a widespread belief in the stability and reliability of nanofluid solutions, but it has not been possible to document that over the course of a long period of time,” Dr. Azizian wrote.

 

Read the full white paper at https://goo.gl/QbDTgh.

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