Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Heart, Human Body Inspires New Microtechnology System

Date:
August 6, 2004
Source:
Oregon State University
Summary:
A successful new "desorption" technology using branching microchannels, which takes its inspiration from the human circulatory system, was described this week at a professional conference and cited as a significant step towards the creation of man-portable cooling systems that may find important uses in the military, fire fighting and elsewhere.

PORTLAND - A successful new "desorption" technology using branching microchannels, which takes its inspiration from the human circulatory system, was described this week at a professional conference and cited as a significant step towards the creation of man-portable cooling systems that may find important uses in the military, fire fighting and elsewhere.

Related Articles


The latest advance was explained by engineers from Oregon State University at the Micro Nano Breakthrough Conference in Portland, an event that is highlighting some of the most exciting new work being done in micro and nanotechnology. It is sponsored by OSU and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

One of the major projects already under way in cooperative research between OSU and PNNL is the creation of revolutionary new cooling systems that could be extremely small, lightweight, and at first might find applications for soldiers in hot weather combat or other professionals working in very hot or dangerous conditions.

The newest advance is an important technical hurdle to overcome, researchers say, and in some ways takes its inspiration from the blood pumping system of the human body, which uses a comparatively small pump to move blood - according to some estimates, through at least 60,000 miles of veins, arteries and capillaries.

"If you think of what our heart and circulatory system does, we have a rather modest pump, the heart, that moves blood through great distances," said Deborah Pence, an OSU associate professor of mechanical engineering. "To accomplish this each artery branches into two smaller arteries, yet the overall flow area increases, thus requiring less effort to move the blood. Conceptually, that's what we are doing with this engineering approach."

For traditional cooling, Pence said, a large, bulky compressor pressurizes a vapor for flow through the refrigeration cycle. One way to make a cooling system smaller is to change the type of cycle, so that the large compressor can be replaced with a small pump. This can be done, researchers say, by eliminating the compression cycle and substituting an absorption cycle, a major component of which is a desorber.

"It's already been shown that part of this cycle of evaporation and condensation can be done with microchannel heat exchangers, about the width of a hair," Pence said. "But there are high pressures involved, problems with flow maldistribution and vapor lock. What we've discovered is that branching channels work much better."

Using this approach to microchannels, which create mechanical systems that loosely resemble what a circulatory system uses in pumping blood, gives the system enhanced movement of the liquid at the microscale without large pressure requirements, the researchers found.

"We still have a lot of work to do," Pence said. "This addresses part of the problem with the desorption process. However, PNNL is working on the absorption process, which is somewhat more complicated, and eventually we must make all these components between OSU and PNNL work together. But we're much closer now to really miniaturizing the pump that's needed for the cycle using this branching channel array."

The scientists are also planning to create some transparent silicon disks that perform this function so they can better see inside the process and determine exactly what is happening as the fluid moves through - the velocities of liquids, vapors, flow instabilities and other issues.

According to Pence, the project is an interesting example of a new approach being used in some of this microtechnology research, of first trying to create something that engineers could build from a preliminary design and then see if it would actually work for the desired purpose. It's somewhat different than the carefully plotted, one-step-at-a-time procedures more typical of science. "As a colleague of mine, Kevin Drost, has said, instead of ready, aim, fire, this engineering approach is more like ready, fire, aim," Pence said. "But it's one way that we're going to create working technologies much more rapidly, instead of just something that's interesting in a laboratory but difficult to build or produce in the real world."

This research is part of a three-year, $5.2 million project being supported by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The initial goal is a portable cooling unit that could be carried by a soldier to pump coolant through a specially designed suit, preventing heat exhaustion when working in extremely hot weather conditions. But later consumer applications could be enormous, researchers say, such as automotive cooling or individualized heat pumps for each room of a house.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Oregon State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Oregon State University. "Heart, Human Body Inspires New Microtechnology System." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 August 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/08/040804083534.htm>.
Oregon State University. (2004, August 6). Heart, Human Body Inspires New Microtechnology System. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/08/040804083534.htm
Oregon State University. "Heart, Human Body Inspires New Microtechnology System." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/08/040804083534.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) The International Space Station is now using a proof-of-concept 3D printer to test additive printing in a weightless, isolated environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Innovative recycling project in La Paz separates city waste and converts plastic garbage into school furniture made from 'plastiwood'. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers at Northwestern University are repurposing Blu-ray movies for better solar panel technology thanks to the discs' internal structures. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins