The thermophysical properties of nanofluids have attracted the attention of researchers to a far greater extent than the heat transfer characteristics of nanofluids have. Contradictory results on the thermal-fluid behaviour of nanofluids have been numerically and experimentally reported on in the open literature. Natural convection has not been investigated experimentally as much as the other properties of nanofluids. In this study, the characteristics and stability of Al2O3-water nanofluids (d = 20 30 nm) were analysed using a Malvern zetasizer, zeta potential and UV-visible spectroscopy. The natural convection of Al2O3- water nanofluids (formulated with a single-step method) was experimentally studied in detail for the volume fractions 0, 0.05, 0.1, 0.2, 0.4 and 0.6% in a rectangular cavity with an aspect ratio of 1, heated differentially on two opposite vertical walls for the Rayleigh number (Ra) range 3.49 x 10⁸ to 1.05 x 10⁹. The viscosity of Al2O3-water nanofluids measured between 15 and 50 °C. The effect of temperature and volume fraction on viscosity was also investigated. A detailed study of the nanoparticle concentration effect on the natural convection heat transfer coefficient was performed. It was found that increasing the concentration of nanoparticles improves the heat transfer coefficient by up to 15% at a 0.1% volume fraction. Further increasing the concentration of nanoparticles causes the natural convection heat transfer coefficient to deteriorate. This research also supports the idea that "for nanofluids with thermal conductivity more than the base fluids an optimum concentration may exist that maximises heat transfer in an exact condition as natural convection, laminar force convection or turbulence force convection".
Dissertation (MEng)--University of Pretoria, 2017.