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A relatively simple subset of nanotechnology - nanofluids - can be obtained by adding nanoparticles to conventional base fluids. The promise of these fluids stems from the fact that relatively low particle loadings (typically <1% volume fractions) can significantly change the properties of the base fluid. This research explores how low volume fraction nanofluids, composed of common base-fluids, interact with light energy. Comparative experimentation and modeling reveals that absorbing light volumetrically (i.e. in the depth of the fluid) is fundamentally different from surface-based absorption. Depending on the particle material, size, shape, and volume fraction, a fluid can be changed from being mostly transparent to sunlight (in the case of water, alcohols, oils, and glycols) to being a very efficient volumetric absorber of sunlight. This research also visualizes, under high levels of irradiation, how nanofluids undergo interesting, localized phase change phenomena. For this, images were taken of bubble formation and boiling in aqueous nanofluids heated by a hot wire and by a laser. Infrared thermography was also used to quantify this phenomenon. Overall, though, this research reveals the possibility for novel solar collectors in which the working fluid directly absorbs light energy and undergoes phase change in a single step. Modeling results indicate that these improvements can increase a solar thermal receiver's efficiency by up to 10%.
Recent literature indicates potential benefits in microchannel cooling if an inlet orifice is used to suppress pressure oscillations that develop under two-phase conditions. This study investigates the costs and benefits of using an adjustable microchannel inlet orifice. The focus is on orifice effect during steady-state boiling and critical heat flux (CHF) in the channels using R134a in a pumped refrigerant loop (PRL). To change orifice size, a dam controlled with a micrometer was placed in front of 31 parallel microchannels. Each channel had a hydraulic diameter of 0.235 mm and a length of 1.33 cm. For steady state two-phase conditions, mass fluxes of 300 kg m-2 s-1 and 600 kg m-2 s-1were investigated. For orifice sizes with a hydraulic diameter to unrestricted hydraulic diameter (Dh:Dh,ur) ratio less than 35 percent, oscillations were reduced and wall temperatures fell up to 1.5 °C. Critical heat flux data were obtained for 7 orifice sizes with mass fluxes from 186 kg m-2 s-1 to 847 kg m-2 s-1. For all mass fluxes and inlet conditions tested, CHF values for a Dh:Dh,ur ratio of 1.8 percent became increasingly lower (up to 37 W cm-2 less) than those obtained with larger orifices. An optimum orifice size with Dh:Dh,ur of 35 percent emerged, offering up to 5 W cm-2 increase in CHF over unrestricted conditions at the highest mass flux tested, 847 kg m-2 s-1. These improvements in cooling ability with inlet orifices in place under both steady-state and impending CHF conditions are modest, leading to the conclusion that inlet orifices are only mildly effective at improving heat transfer coefficients. Stability of the PRL used for experimentation was also studied and improved. A vapor compression cycle's (VCC) proportional, integral, and derivative controller was found to adversely affect stability within the PRL and cause premature CHF. Replacing the VCC with an ice water heat sink maintained steady pumped loop system pressures and mass flow rates. The ice water heat sink was shown to have energy cost savings over the use of a directly coupled VCC for removing heat from the PRL.
This study analyzes the thermoelectric phenomena of nanoparticle suspensions, which are composed of liquid and solid nanoparticles that show a relatively stable Seebeck coefficient as bulk solids near room temperature. The approach is to explore the thermoelectric character of the nanoparticle suspensions, predict the outcome of the experiment and compare the experimental data with anticipated results. In the experiment, the nanoparticle suspension is contained in a 15cm*2.5cm*2.5cm glass container, the temperature gradient ranges from 20 °C to 60 °C, and room temperature fluctuates from 20 °C to 23°C. The measured nanoparticles include multiwall carbon nanotubes, aluminum dioxide and bismuth telluride. A temperature gradient from 20 °C to 60 °C is imposed along the length of the container, and the resulting voltage (if any) is measured. Both heating and cooling processes are measured. With three different nanoparticle suspensions (carbon nano tubes, Al2O3 nanoparticles and Bi2Te3 nanoparticles), the correlation between temperature gradient and voltage is correspondingly 8%, 38% and 96%. A comparison of results calculated from the bulk Seebeck coefficients with our measured results indicate that the Seebeck coefficient measured for each suspension is much more than anticipated, which indicates that the thermophoresis effect could have enhanced the voltage. Further research with a closed-loop system might be able to affirm the results of this study.