Frontiers in Energy

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 49–61 | Cite as

Liquid metal as energy transportation medium or coolant under harsh environment with temperature below zero centigrade

  • Yunxia Gao
  • Lei Wang
  • Haiyan Li
  • Jing LiuEmail author
Review Article


The current highly integrated electronics and energy systems are raising a growing demand for more sophisticated thermal management in harsh environments such as in space or some other cryogenic environment. Recently, it was found that room temperature liquid metals (RTLM) such as gallium or its alloys could significantly reduce the electronics temperature compared with the conventional coolant, like water, oil or more organic fluid. However, most of the works were focused on RTLM which may subject to freeze under low temperature. So far, a systematic interpretation on the preparation and thermal properties of liquid metals under low temperature (here defined as lower than 0°C) has not yet been available and related applications in cryogenic field have been scarce. In this paper, to promote the research along this important direction and to overcome the deficiency of RTLM, a comprehensive evaluation was proposed on the concept of liquid metal with a low melting point below zero centigrade, such as mercury, alkali metal and more additional alloy candidates. With many unique virtues, such liquid metal coolants are expected to open a new technical frontier for heat transfer enhancement, especially in low temperature engineering. Some innovative ways for making low melting temperature liquid metal were outlined to provide a clear theoretical guideline and perform further experiments to discover new materials. Further, a few promising applied situations where low melting temperature liquid metals could play irreplaceable roles were detailed. Finally, some main factors for optimization of low temperature coolant were summarized. Overall, with their evident merits to meet various critical requirements in modern advanced energy and power industries, liquid metals with a low melting temperature below zero centigrade are expected to be the next-generation high-performance heat transfer medium in thermal managements, especially in harsh environment in space.


liquid metal cryogenics low melting point thermal management aircraft liquid cooling space exploration 


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© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Lab of Cryogenics and Beijing Key Lab of CryoBiomedical Engineering, Technical Institute of Physics and ChemistryChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of Biomedical Engineering, School of MedicineTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina

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