By Newsgram Staff Writer
Scientists at Drexel University in Pennsylvania have developed a technology that can heat water faster up to three times. This can be really helpful in conserving energy in industrial power plants or large-scale electronic cooling systems. It can also be used to make tea quickly, technically speaking.
The air bubbles created while heating water temporarily insulate heating elements from the surrounding water, slowing down the transfer of heat. The scientists have found that the size of these bubbles can be reduced by coating a heating element with a virus found on tobacco plants.
The reduction in bubble size will also prevent ‘critical heat flux’ caused when bubbles merge into a blanket surrounding the element hampering the transfer heat to the water.
‘What happens then is the dry surface gets hotter and hotter, like a pan on the stove without water in it. This failure can lead to the simple destruction of electronic components, or in power plant cooling applications, the catastrophic meltdown of a nuclear reactor.’ Matthew McCarthy, an engineer at Drexel University was quoted in the PSFK magazine.
Scientists had been looking for ways to develop a surface that repels bubbles and keep the boiling surface wet. McCarthy’s team found that tobacco mosaic virus was perfect for the purpose.
They have genetically modified the virus so that it can attach itself to any surface. Once the virus is attached to the surface, it is coated with a microscopically thin layer of nickel to make the virus inert. This forms a sort of metallic grass which can wick moisture to the surface and repel bubbles.