American Chemical Society
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High-Thermal-Conductivity and High-Fluidity Heat Transfer Emulsion with 89 wt % Suspended Liquid Metal Microdroplets

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-09, 15:04 authored by Suyeon Kim, Seongeun Kang, Joohyung Lee
Colloidal suspensions of thermally conductive particles in a carrier fluid are considered promising heat transfer fluids for various thermal energy transfer applications, such as transportation, plants, electronics, and renewable energy systems. The thermal conductivity (k) of the particle-suspended fluids can be improved substantially by increasing the concentration of conductive particles above a “thermal percolation threshold,” which is limited because of the vitrification of the resulting fluid at the high particle loadings. In this study, eutectic Ga–In liquid metal (LM) was employed as a soft high-k filler dispersed as microdroplets at high loadings in paraffin oil (as a carrier fluid) to produce an emulsion-type heat transfer fluid with the combined advantages of high thermal conductivity and high fluidity. Two types of the LM-in-oil emulsions, which were produced via the probe-sonication and rotor–stator homogenization (RSH) methods, demonstrated significant improvements in k, i.e., Δk ∼409 and ∼261%, respectively, at the maximum investigated LM loading of 50 vol % (∼89 wt %), attributed to the enhanced heat transport via high-k LM fillers above the percolation threshold. Despite the high filler loading, the RSH-produced emulsion retained remarkably high fluidity, with a relatively low viscosity increase and no yield stress, demonstrating its potential as a circulatable heat transfer fluid.