Steam generated by the boiling water is used extensively in industry and energy production projects. It is also used to turn a turbine for power generation. However, the energy consumed in bringing the water to boil, enhances the heat losses, thus reducing the overall efficiency of the system.
The scientists from the Oregon State University have hit upon a brilliant new method of boiling water that will significantly cut the energy losses. The research was published in “Nature”, detailing the role of the nano-materials in the process. The best aspect of the project is that it also allows the water to emit the absorbed heat at an enhanced rate, making it an improved cooling agent.
Using an inkjet printer, the container is layered with the polymer nano-particles that are hydrophobic in nature. Next, a specified arrangement of the hydrophilic nanomaterial is placed on the top. The two layers control the pattern of the generation of bubbles inside the water. The opposite polarity of water attraction and repulsion accounts for the precision in the production of the bubbles.
The underlying theory explaining this unique behavior is quite simple yet fascinating. Even when it has reached the boiling point, water requires a “nucleation site” like a crevice or a small deft, to form a bubble.
By tuning the creation and release of bubbles in boiling water, more steam is created, and the size of these steam bubbles can be precisely controlled, along with the rate of their release. The research team can set a pattern of nucleation sites, whereby it can control the way that the water will boil. To observe an ideal coolant behavior of the water, more nucleation sites will be introduced, to encourage bubble formation and the heat dissipation.
The system is equally efficient for improved steam generation, allowing enhanced production of steam at lower surface temperatures. Therefore, the nanoparticle surface is thrice more effective than the stainless steel surface to generate steam.
The Oregon State University team demonstrated the precision of their latest invention by employing it to write letters spelled with the bubbles. The technique is ripe for an extensive adoption in the industry, mainly because it does not involve any hefty investment. Apart from the ease of use, the technology can easily be integrated with the existing mechanisms without any significant alterations, making it even more suitable for a wide-scale adoption.