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Meet the teams

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ESA / Education / Fly Your Thesis!

Four teams of postgraduate students flew their experiments during the 2011 'Fly Your Thesis!' campaign. Here is an introduction to the Belgian team.


QNEM & nanos on board! team – Is nanofluid's thermal diffusivity different in micro-g?


University Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
Endorsing professor Prof. Stefan Van Vaerenbergh
Université Libre de Bruxelles
Assistant scientist Dr. Christophe Minetti
Université Libre de Bruxelles
ELGRA mentor Dr. Mauricio Hoyos
Ecole Supérieure de Physique et Chimie Industrielles de la ville de Paris
Team Quentin Galand
Naïm Rahal
Marc Jaumain
Ahmed El Mallahi

The aim of this student experiment is to investigate the thermal diffusivity and conductivity of nanofluids, which are suspensions of nanometre-sized particles in conventional liquids (e.g. water, ethylene glycol or silicon oils).

The studied liquid was placed in a parallelepipedic, transparent glass cell. Two thermal regulation modules were placed on the lower and upper parts of the cell. At the beginning of the experiment, both sides of the cell had the same temperature, in order to ensure a homogeneous temperature throughout the liquid. Later, the temperature of one side of the cell was modified, while the temperature of the other side remained constant. This caused diffusion of heat through the liquid layer, which resulted in a deformation of the temperature field in the liquid. This effect was observed by direct visualization with a Mach-Zehnder interferometer.

The team with their experiment
The team with their experiment

The experiment timeline was adapted to take advantage of the sequence of different gravity levels (0 - 1 – 2 g) available in parabolic flights, in order to evaluate precisely the influence of gravity on the results. Different nanofluid samples were studied during a single flight.

This technique is very interesting because it provides a two-dimensional and non-intrusive measurement of the temperature of the liquid.

The primary purpose of this student experiment is to obtain reference scientific data of high quality. If it is confirmed that the thermal properties of nanofluids are of interest, those fluids could replace traditional liquids in standard industrial heat exchange devices.

Read more about this experiment on the ERASMUS Experiment Archive.

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