The Project


The world’s largest collaborative project for the research and development of nanofluid coolants, NanoHex comprises of a consortium of 12 leading European companies and research centres. The €8.3 million project has been funded by the Seventh Framework Programme grant, together with investment from the consortium themselves. Initially promoted by the Italian based research and development company ISIS R&D, in collaboration with European Industries and Universities, and using promising research results from previous works carried out by the consortium

NanoHex aims to develop and optimise safe processes for the production of high performance nanofluid coolants for use in industrial heat management. It will also endeavour to develop an analytical model that can accurately predict the thermal performance of such nanofluid coolants; something that has not yet been achieved.

Nanofluids have shown significantly enhanced thermal properties incomparison to traditional cooling fluids and by coupling significant technical benefit and commercial viability with environmental friendliness, NanoHex aims to produce a nanofluid that can be safely manufactured, applied and recycled.

The efficient removal of heat is one of the top challenges facing a number of industries, including microelectronics, transportation, manufacturing and power generation. With existing cooling technologies reaching their limit, innovative and more efficient cooling technologies are needed to support technological development and reduce the impact such technologies have on the environment. The nanofluid developed will be applied in demonstrative cooling systems for both Data Centres and Power Electronic components to illustrate how nanofluid may help to extend product reliability, reduce energy consumption, lower operating costs, cut carbon emissions, and ultimately, enable the development of more sustainable products and processes within industry.

Nanohex Aims

  • Translate promising laboratory-based, nanotechnology research results into pilot-lines for the production of nanofluid coolants for industrial heat management applications.
  • Investigate and advance the scientific understanding of the thermal behavior and properties of nanofluid.
  • Develop an analytical model to simulate and predict the heat transfer of formulated nanofluid coolants.
  • Optimise the formulation of nanofluid coolants through the control of the synthesis process and knowledge of the underlying physico-chemical sciences.
  • Design and develop two small scale pilot lines for the manufacture of NanoHex fluid coolants.
  • Deliver energy savings, and safe and reliable exploitation of nanofluid coolants in cooling of electronics, primarily targeting Data Centre and Power Electronics applications.

NanoHex Work Packages

  • WP 01: Industrial Needs and Candidate Nanofluids
  • WP 02: Nanofluid Characterisation and Optimisation
  • WP 03: NanoHex Heat Management System
  • WP 04: Analytical Modeling
  • WP 05: Single Stage Production Pilot Line
  • WP 06: Two Stage Production Pilot Line
  • WP 07: Demonstrator for Data Centre Cooling
  • WP 08: Demonstrator for Power Electronics Cooling
  • WP 09: Scale-up of Demonstrator Cooling Systems
  • WP 10: Health, Safety, LCA and Economics
  • WP 11: Exploitation, Training & Dissemination 


Characterisation & Production

Materials on a nanoscale possess radically different physio-chemical properties. Altering the structure of a nanoparticle can enhance its functionality, providing novel applications, but can make the behavior of such materials difficult to predict.

At the nanoscale, size-dependant physical properties are often observed and their high surface to volume ratio can make particles highly reactive. Nanoparticle characterisation is conducted in order to establish an understanding and control of the safe synthesis and application of nanoparticles.

In order to safely utilise such properties and optimise the thermal benefits of nanofluid for industrial application, nanofluids provided by members of the consortia containing nanoparticles of an agreed type, size distribution, shape and source, will be characterised by The University of Birmingham and The Royal Institute for Technology, with a consideration for factors such as:

  • Nanoparticle concentration
  • Particle size distributions
  • Morphology
  • Surface Characterisation
  • Inter-particle forces
  • Specific Heat
  • Rheology

Thermal characterisation will include the static measurements of thermal conductivity, as well as determination of heat transfer coefficients and pressure drops in different flow regimes of single phase- and evaporating flows. An experimental test campaign will be implemented to evaluate the convective heat transfer behavior of nanofluid at different flow regimes. For that purpose, a test rig will be designed, made, commissioned and used in University of Twente. The erosion, stability and ageing phenomena of each nanofluid will also be investigated.

Whilst sources of commercially available nanopowders exist, there are no commercial sources of well characterised nanofluid coolants available today anywhere in the world. The NanoHex project is designed to overcome the key technological challenges and bottlenecks, in order to develop a new generation of high-performance nanofluid coolants, for use by industry.

Nanopowders will therefore be produced in house (ENEA, ItN, Dispersia) or procured directly from the commercial market. Once the principal candidates and solvents for the nanofluids have been identified and substantiated, and the basic route of synthesis defined, a specification for the design of Small-Scale Pilot Lines will be developed in two ways;

A single stage pilot line will be constructed and developed by ItN using wet chemistry to synthesise nanofluid coolants.

A two stage pilot line that disperses “dry” commercially available nanopowders into a carrier fluid will be specifically designed and assembled to produce fully formulated nanofluids.

Partners will receive different samples from the pilot line in order to verify purity, quality, stability and compatibility.


The Analytical Model

Preliminary data suggests that nanofluids posses superior thermal properties and may significantly enhance cooling in comparison to current, ordinary fluids used for industrial cooling applications. However, this phenomenon is little understood.

Led by ISIS, the consortia will investigate the behavior of selected nanofluid coolants using theoretical analysis, numerical simulation, numerical modeling and experimentation, to gain a deeper understanding of the NanoHex nanofluid coolants’ behavior.

A consistent working analytical model will be conceived to predict the heat transfer performance of selected nanofluid coolants, with particular reference to the:

  • Calculation of the thermal conductivity
  • Heat transfer between the coolant and the channel wall


Application Areas

Many businesses are focussing hard on finding innovative ways to reduce their energy consumption and sustain their profitability, as global energy reserves are depleted and costs continue to rise.

The conventional heat transfer systems associated with industries such as microelectronics, transportation, manufacturing, power generation and many other technologies has been lagging behind. Cooling proves a major challenge for many industries, where the operation of equipment can produce a large amount of redundant heat, and this may soon inhibit the development of future technologies in terms of design and efficiency.

Liquids are often used in cooling systems to help to dissipate heat or maintain an even temperature but a nanofluid coolant could significantly enhance the cooling process, to benefit a range of industries, such as industrial machinery, electric engines, medical equipment, power generation and the process industries.

In order to demonstrate the safe manufacture, efficiency, reliability and enhanced cooling benefits of a heat transfer system that incorporates a nanofluid coolant, NanoHex will develop demonstrators for application of nanofluid in Data Centres and Power Electronics.

  Data CentresPower Electronics 


Life Cycle Assessment

Using a full Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), NanoHex will carefully evaluate the health and safety of nanofluid coolants and their potential impact on the environment, health and safety, for both Data Centre and Power Electronics applications.

The LCA will combine existing literature with complementary primary data collected during the laboratory tests and nanofluid production, to span the coolants entire life cycle.

This begins with the supply of raw materials to the production of the fluids and encompasses their application, maintenance, recycling and replacement within data centres and power electronics.

The LCA will be complimented by the use of Risk Assessment (RA) in accordance with the Action Plan "Nanosciences and nanotechnologies: An action plan for Europe 2005-2009". This will characterize any hazards and risks, and quantify potential exposure for workers, the public and the environment to dangerous substances. Both methodologies will be applied independently in order to allow a clear analysis of environmental health and safety and encompass four distinct stages:

A. Exposure Scenario Identification The identification of how the manufacture, use and final disposal or recycling could result in exposure of humans or environmental species and ecosystems.

B. Exposure Scenario Characterisation The characterisation of the nature, level and duration of any exposure.

C. Hazard Identification The identification of the hazardous properties of any forms of the nanofluid to which significant exposure is likely, based on the latest available knowledge.

D. Exposure Assessment The characterisation of the hazard and the final risk assessment.