Magnetically Stimulated Fluid Flow Patterns Offer Strategy for Heat Transfer Problems

Sandia National Laboratories researchers Jim Martin and Kyle Solis have discovered how to harness magnetic fields to create vigorous, organized fluid flows in particle suspensions. Fluid flow is a necessary phenomenon in everything from reactors to cooling engines in cars. The magnetically stimulated flows offer an alternative when heat transfer is difficult because they overcome natural convection limits. Martin and Solis also demonstrated a heat transfer valve that could potentially control the temperature of computer processors. The two researchers make fluids move by adding a small amount of magnetic platelets to a liquid and applying modest, uniform alternating current (AC) magnetic fields. The phenomenon, which they've termed isothermal magnetic advection, has shown very good results for noncontact heat transfer, and would be useful for cooling microsystems and cooling in microgravity.