Cooling when there’s too much heat
When an earthquake and tsunami struck Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011, knocking out emergency power supplies, crews sprayed seawater on the reactors to cool them — to no avail.
In addition to nuclear safety systems, this work has important implications for systems such as steam generators, industrial boilers, fire suppression, and fuel-injected engines, as well as for processes such as spray cooling of hot metal. One application now being considered by Varanasi and his colleagues is electronics cooling. “The heat fluxes in electronics cooling are skyrocketing,” Varanasi says. It might be a job for efficient spray cooling — “if we can figure out how to fit a system into the small space inside electronic devices.”
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