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ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: Wed Jul 02 16:34:47 EDT 2014

Toward a new way to keep electronics from overheating

"Energy, Exergy, and Friction Factor Analysis of Nanofluid as a Coolant for Electronics"
Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research

Computer technology has transformed the way we live, but as consumers expect ever more from their devices at faster speeds, personal computers as well as larger computing systems can overheat. This can cause them to slow down, or worse, completely shut down. Now researchers are reporting in the ACS journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research that liquids containing nanoparticles could help devices stay cool and keep them running.

Rahman Saidur and colleagues point out that consumers demand a lot out of their gadgets. But that puts a huge strain on the tiny parts that whir away inside desktops and mainframe computers, which do the major data crunching for us. The result is overheating. Recent research has shown that substances called nanofluids have the potential to help keep electronics cool. They are made of metallic nanoparticles that have been added to a liquid, such as water. But there are many different kinds, and past research on their coolant abilities has been limited. To help sort through them, Saidur’s team set out to determine which ones might work best.

Using something called a microchannel heat sink to simulate the warm environment of a working computer, they analyzed three nanofluids for the traits that are important in an effective coolant. These include how well they transfer heat, how much energy they lose, the friction they cause and their pumping power. All three performed better than water as coolants with the nanofluid mixture of copper oxide and water topping them all.

The authors acknowledge funding from the Ministry of Education Malaysia.

Overheating computers could soon be a thing of the past with the development of a new nanocoolant.
Credit: Todd Warnock/Photodisc/Thinkstock