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Surface tension of Nanofluid-type fuels containing suspended nanomaterials

Saad Tanvir and Li Qiao*

Author Affiliations

School of Aeronautics & Astronautics, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, 47907, USA

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2012, 7:226  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-7-226

Published: 18 April 2012


The surface tension of ethanol and n-decane based nanofluid fuels containing suspended aluminum (Al), aluminum oxide (Al2O3), and boron (B) nanoparticles as well as dispersible multi-wall carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) were measured using the pendant drop method by solving the Young-Laplace equation. The effects of nanoparticle concentration, size and the presence of a dispersing agent (surfactant) on surface tension were determined. The results show that surface tension increases both with particle concentration (above a critical concentration) and particle size for all cases. This is because the Van der Waals force between particles at the liquid/gas interface increases surface free energy and thus increases surface tension. At low particle concentrations, however, addition of particles has little influence on surface tension because of the large distance between particles. An exception is when a surfactant was used or when (MWCNTs) was involved. For such cases, the surface tension decreases compared to the pure base fluid. The hypothesis is the polymer groups attached to (MWCNTs) and the surfactant layer between a particle and the surround fluid increases the electrostatic force between particles and thus reduce surface energy and surface tension.

Nanofluids; Surface tension; Van der Waals force; Electrostatic force