Experimental Investigation of Forced Convection Heat Transfer of Nanofluids in a Microchannel using Temperature Nanosensors
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Experiments were performed to study forced convective heat transfer of de-ionized water (DI water) and aqueous nanofluids flowing in a microchannel. An array of temperature nanosensors, called “Thin Film Thermocouples (TFT)”, was utilized for performing the experimental measurements. TFT arrays were designed (which included design of photomask layout), microfabricated, packaged and assembled for testing with the experimental apparatus. Heat removal rates from the heated surface to the different testing fluids were measured by varying the coolant flow rates, wall temperatures, nanoparticle material, nanoparticle morphology (shape and nanoparticle size) as well as mass concentrations of nanoparticles in the coolants. Anomalous thermal behavior was observed in the forced convective heat transfer experiments. Precipitation of the nanoparticles on the heat exchanging surface was monitored using Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and Energy Dispersive X-Ray spectroscopy (EDX). Isolated precipitation of nanoparticles is expected to cause formation of “nanofins” leading to enhancement of surface area and thus resulting in enhanced convective heat transfer to the nanofluid coolants. However, excessive precipitation (caused due to the agglomeration of the nanoparticles in the nanofluid coolant) causes scaling (fouling) of the heat exchanging surfaces and thus results in degradation of convective heat transfer. This study shows that the surface morphology plays a crucial role in determining the efficacy of convective heat transfer involving suspensions of nanoparticles in coolants (or nanofluids). Flow visualization and quantitative estimation of near-wall temperature profiles were performed using quantum dots and fluorescent dyes. This non-contact measurement technique for temperature and flow profiles in microchannels using quantum dots is expected to make pioneering contribution to the field of experimental flow visualization and to the study of micro/nano-scale heat transfer phenomena, particularly for forced convective heat transfer of various coolants, including nanofluids. Logical extensions of this study were explored and future directions were proposed. Preliminary experiments to demonstrate feasibility showed significant enhancement in the flow boiling heat flux values for nanofluids compared to that of pure solvent (DIW). Based on the novel phenomena observed in this study several other topics for future research were suggested, such as, using Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) platforms to monitor precipitation of nanoparticles on microchannel surfaces in real time (e.g., for generating surface isotherms).
Yu, Jiwon 1982- (2012). Experimental Investigation of Forced Convection Heat Transfer of Nanofluids in a Microchannel using Temperature Nanosensors. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from