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Effect of nanoparticles on heat capacity of nanofluids based on molten salts as PCM for thermal energy storage

Manila Chieruzzi1*, Gian F Cerritelli1, Adio Miliozzi2 and José M Kenny13

Author Affiliations

1 Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, UdR INSTM, University of Perugia, Strada di Pentima, 4, 05100 Terni, Italy

2 ENEA – Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development, Casaccia Research Centre, Via Anguillarese, 301 - 00123 S. Maria di Galeria, Rome, Italy

3 Institute for Polymer Science and Technology, ICTP-CSIC, Juan De la Cierva, 3, 28006 Madrid, Spain

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2013, 8:448  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-8-448

Published: 29 October 2013


In this study, different nanofluids with phase change behavior were developed by mixing a molten salt base fluid (selected as phase change material) with nanoparticles using the direct-synthesis method. The thermal properties of the nanofluids obtained were investigated. These nanofluids can be used in concentrating solar plants with a reduction of storage material if an improvement in the specific heat is achieved. The base salt mixture was a NaNO3-KNO3 (60:40 ratio) binary salt. The nanoparticles used were silica (SiO2), alumina (Al2O3), titania (TiO2), and a mix of silica-alumina (SiO2-Al2O3). Three weight fractions were evaluated: 0.5, 1.0, and 1.5 wt.%. Each nanofluid was prepared in water solution, sonicated, and evaporated. Measurements on thermophysical properties were performed by differential scanning calorimetry analysis and the dispersion of the nanoparticles was analyzed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The results obtained show that the addition of 1.0 wt.% of nanoparticles to the base salt increases the specific heat of 15% to 57% in the solid phase and of 1% to 22% in the liquid phase. In particular, this research shows that the addition of silica-alumina nanoparticles has a significant potential for enhancing the thermal storage characteristics of the NaNO3-KNO3 binary salt. These results deviated from the predictions of the theoretical model used. SEM suggests a greater interaction between these nanoparticles and the salt.

Phase change materials; Nanofluid; Thermal energy storage; Nanoparticles; Heat capacity; Molten salt; Nanocomposite