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Enhancing surface heat transfer by carbon nanofins: towards an alternative to nanofluids?

Eliodoro Chiavazzo and Pietro Asinari*

Author Affiliations

Department of Energetics, Politecnico di Torino, Corso Duca degli Abruzzi, 10129 Torino, Italy

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2011, 6:249  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-6-249

Published: 22 March 2011



Nanofluids are suspensions of nanoparticles and fibers which have recently attracted much attention because of their superior thermal properties. Nevertheless, it was proven that, due to modest dispersion of nanoparticles, such high expectations often remain unmet. In this article, by introducing the notion of nanofin, a possible solution is envisioned, where nanostructures with high aspect-ratio are sparsely attached to a solid surface (to avoid a significant disturbance on the fluid dynamic structures), and act as efficient thermal bridges within the boundary layer. As a result, particles are only needed in a small region of the fluid, while dispersion can be controlled in advance through design and manufacturing processes.


Toward the end of implementing the above idea, we focus on single carbon nanotubes to enhance heat transfer between a surface and a fluid in contact with it. First, we investigate the thermal conductivity of the latter nanostructures by means of classical non-equilibrium molecular dynamics simulations. Next, thermal conductance at the interface between a single wall carbon nanotube (nanofin) and water molecules is assessed by means of both steady-state and transient numerical experiments.


Numerical evidences suggest a pretty favorable thermal boundary conductance (order of 107 W·m-2·K-1) which makes carbon nanotubes potential candidates for constructing nanofinned surfaces.