Cans containing nanofluid as lubricants, ready for industry trial.

Cans containing nanofluid as lubricants, ready for industry trial.

A research project of the Physics Department of Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IITM) shows that the lifetime of an engine and efficiency of a vehicle can increase by using nanoparticles in engine coolants and lubricants of automobiles.

Nanofluids are engine coolants with greater thermal conductivity than traditional coolants like water and Ethylene Glycol. Essentially, this means that nanofluids can cool down the engine faster than water because its capacity to absorb heat is better. The coolant, therefore, needn’t be replaced as frequently as before.

“Unlike hybrid vehicles, these coolants will barely increase the cost of the vehicle,” said Dr. Ramaprabhu, Head, Alternative Energy and Nanotechnology Laboratory (AENL).

Equipment used for producing nanofluids.

Equipment used for producing nanofluids.

Nanofluids can also be used as lubricants for automobile parts and industry machinery. They help reduce friction and consequential wear and tear, improving vehicle life. It is very useful in power industries where it is used to cool down huge boilers.

“Since the procedure for production is sustainable, these coolants can be produced on a large scale”, said Reshmi Shende, a PhD research scholar working on the project since last year.

In this pioneer venture, IIT Madras is collaborating with many companies like the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and Tata Motors.

Lab equipment used in the research process

Lab equipment used in the research process

They are also collaborating with Sankara Netralaya Eye Hospital in Chennai and trying to use nanoparticles for cancer treatment as delivery vehicles for drugs or radiation without damaging nearby healthy tissue, which is a major side effect of existing treatments.

The original concept of nanofluids as coolants and lubricants was developed by Steve Choi of Argonne’s Energy Technology Division. While their experiments primarily used copper with a base fluid like water, IIT Madras is the first to use Carbon Nano Tubes (CNT) and Graphene nanoparticles for this purpose.

For more details on nanofluids and their applications in these areas, click on the link below:

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