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Particle size effects in the thermal conductivity enhancement of copper-based nanofluids

Michael Saterlie1, Huseyin Sahin2, Barkan Kavlicoglu2, Yanming Liu2 and Olivia Graeve1*

Author Affiliations

1 Kazuo Inamori School of Engineering, Alfred University, 2 Pine Street, Alfred, NY 14802, USA

2 Advanced Materials and Devices, Inc., 4750 Longley Lane #104, Reno, NV 89502, USA

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2011, 6:217  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-6-217

Published: 14 March 2011


We present an analysis of the dispersion characteristics and thermal conductivity performance of copper-based nanofluids. The copper nanoparticles were prepared using a chemical reduction methodology in the presence of a stabilizing surfactant, oleic acid or cetyl trimethylammonium bromide (CTAB). Nanofluids were prepared using water as the base fluid with copper nanoparticle concentrations of 0.55 and 1.0 vol.%. A dispersing agent, sodium dodecylbenzene sulfonate (SDBS), and subsequent ultrasonication was used to ensure homogenous dispersion of the copper nanopowders in water. Particle size distribution of the copper nanoparticles in the base fluid was determined by dynamic light scattering. We found that the 0.55 vol.% Cu nanofluids exhibited excellent dispersion in the presence of SDBS. In addition, a dynamic thermal conductivity setup was developed and used to measure the thermal conductivity performance of the nanofluids. The 0.55 vol.% Cu nanofluids exhibited a thermal conductivity enhancement of approximately 22%. In the case of the nanofluids prepared from the powders synthesized in the presence of CTAB, the enhancement was approximately 48% over the base fluid for the 1.0 vol.% Cu nanofluids, which is higher than the enhancement values found in the literature. These results can be directly related to the particle/agglomerate size of the copper nanoparticles in water, as determined from dynamic light scattering.