Does NASA Use Ferrofluid?
Does NASA Use Ferrofluid?
On the internet, there has been much discussion of NASA's invention of ferrofluid with an aim of using it as rocket fuel that could be controlled magnetically; this idea ultimately didn't take hold and now uses ferrofluid is used for various other applications.
This black goo resembles magic and has been utilized in various applications such as speakers and hard drives. It is composed of nanoscale iron oxide particles suspended in an oil or water-based carrier fluid.
It was invented by Steve Papell
NASA scientist Steve Papell devised ferrofluid in the 1960s. This combination of small ferrite particles dissolved in oil or water could serve as a means of pumping rocket fuel without gravity affecting it.
He created an experiment called PAPELL that utilized pulsed electromagnets to relocate magnetic fluid, and cause its particles to form needle-like spikes. It marked the first time ever that magnetic fluid had self-assembled itself into an object rather than simply dissipating within its container.
Today, this fluid can be found in speakers, hard drives, skateboards and even to keep dust off of sensitive hardware. Furthermore, its use extends to polishing optical lenses for polishing lenses of optical telescopes like Hubble to help correct their images.
Artists such as Nikola Ilic have used ferrofluid to craft breathtaking sculptures. Additionally, this magnetic liquid has made its way into music videos such as Pendulum's "Watercolour". Scientists are exploring its use as an anticancer treatment and for drug-resistant infections.
It’s used in liquid o-rings
Ferrofluids are colloidal liquids containing nanoscale magnetic particles coated in a surfactant to keep them from clumping together, used in many applications such as liquid seals and bearings. Ferrofluids also respond to magnetic fields by remaining fluid while staying fluid - an ability they share with solid ferrous materials.
Scientists have recently made the exciting discovery that using a magnetic field to control the shape of ferrofluid can create beautiful and striking patterns reminiscent of ink-like spikes or hedgehogs. Peaks and valleys form in accordance with its shape while surface tension and gravity limit peak height.
Ferrofluids are widely used in computer chips and are being researched as potential space propulsion fuel replacements; however, they shouldn't be seen as replacements for traditional rocket fuel. Instead, these magnetic fluids could be used to form needle-like points which emit streams of ions to propel satellites into orbit - however this application requires more than simply magnetic fluid; it requires an extremely controlled environment.
It’s used in computer chips
Scientists using microscopic bits of ferromagnetic iron oxide mixed with oil or another solvent create ferrofluid, a fluid composed of suspended particles suspended within. When exposed to magnetic fields, these particles can be moved and shaped. Ferrofluids have many uses ranging from helping cool loudspeakers and sealing emissions produced by spinning shafts to medical applications like targeting medications directly at tumors.
Most magnetic materials lose their magnetism when heated, but particles suspended in ferrofluid remain suspended above its melting point, providing it with the capability to balance multiple magnetic forces simultaneously and even form exotic spikes under certain circumstances.
When magnetic coils are activated, their fields generate a travelling wave that spins the nanoparticles within ferrofluid to generate shear gradients that propel its liquid state forward. The magnetic field can then be adjusted accordingly in order to manage direction and speed of its movement.
It’s being used for space propulsion
Ferrofluid electrospray propulsion for satellites offers promising new methods of propulsion. The system creates needle-like jets of fluid to propel spacecraft forward. Brandon Jackson, a doctoral student at Michigan Technological University has created a computational model of this form of ferrofluid thruster propulsion.
Ferrofluids are colloidal liquids containing nanoscale magnetic particles suspended in a carrier fluid such as mineral oil or synthetic fluids. When exposed to external magnetic fields, these tiny particles move through their carrier liquid with what's known as Brownian motion - moving in accordance with an external force like magnetism.
Papell's original plan to utilize ferrofluid fuel in rockets never quite took off, yet magnetic liquids remain attractive technologies. Two Avco engineers licensed this technology to found Ferrofluidics Corporation (now Ferrotec). Since then, their research efforts have expanded into domain detection and material separation processes. So the the answer to your question is "Yes" NASA still uses our beloved ferrofluid.