Researchers from Tsinghua University in China and Brown University in the United States have discovered a simple way to give a major boost to turbulent heat exchange, a method of heat transport widely used in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.

In a paper published inĀ Nature Communications, the researchers show that adding a readily available organic solvent to common water-based turbulent heat exchange systems can boost their capacity to move heat by 500%. That's far better than other methods aimed at increasing heat transfer, the researchers say

In 2015, Professor Chao Sun had the idea to use an organic component known as hydrofluoroether or HFE to speed the cycling of heat inside this kind of exchanger.

The team showed that concentrations of around 1% HFE created dramatic heat flux enhancements up to 500%.

The researchers pointed out that the specific additive they used -- HFE7000 -- is non-corrosive, non-flammable and ozone friendly.

One limitation is that the approach only works on vertical heat exchange systems -- ones that move heat from a lower plate to an upper one. It doesn't currently work on side-to-side systems, though the researchers are considering ways to adapt the technique. Still, vertical exchangers are widely used, and this study has shown a simple way to improve them dramatically.

"We think this has great promise to revolutionize heat exchange in HVAC and other large-scale applications," he said.

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