Reaching the Boiling Point
A new study from Rensselaer researchers shows that by adding an invisible layer of the nanomaterials to the bottom of a metal vessel, an order of magnitude less energy is required to bring water to boil. This increase in efficiency could have a big impact on cooling computer chips, improving heat transfer systems, and reducing costs for industrial boiling applications.
“The increased boiling efficiency seems to be the result of an interesting interplay between the nanoscale and microscale surfaces of the treated metal,” says Nikhil Koratkar, associate professor of mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering, who led the project. “The potential applications for this discovery are vast and exciting, and we’re eager to continue our investigations into this phenomenon.” Koratkar and his team found that by depositing a layer of copper nanorods on the surface of a copper vessel, the nanoscale pockets of air trapped within the forest of nanorods “feed” nanobubbles into the microscale cavities of the vessel surface and help to prevent them from getting flooded with water. This synergistic coupling effect promotes robust boiling and stable bubble nucleation, with large numbers of tiny, frequently occurring bubbles.