Natural convection as a heat transfer mechanism plays a major role in the functioning of many heat transfer devices, such as heat exchangers, energy storage, thermal management and solar collectors. All of these have a large impact on the generation of solar power. Considering how common these devices are not only in power generation cycles, but in a majority of other thermal uses it is clear that increased performance for natural convection heat transfer will have consequences of a high impact. As such, the purpose of this study is to experimentally study the natural convection heat transfer behaviour of a relatively new class of fluids where nano-sized particles are mixed into a base fluid, also known as a nanofluids. Nanofluids have attracted widespread interest as a new heat transfer fluid due to the fact that the addition of nanoparticles considerably increases the thermophysical properties of the nanofluids when compared to those of the base fluid. Furthermore, if these nanoparticles show magnetic behaviour, huge increases in the thermal conductivity and viscosity of the nanofluid can be obtained if the fluid is exposed to a proper magnetic field. With this in mind, the study aimed to experimentally show the behaviour of these so-called magnetic nanofluids in natural convection heat transfer applications.
In this study, the natural convection heat transfer of a magnetic nanofluid in a differentially heated cavity is investigated with and without an applied external magnetic field. The effects of volume concentration and magnetic field configuration are investigated. Spherical nanoparticles with a diameter of 20 nm are used with a volume concentration ranging between 0.05% and 0.3%, tested for the case with no magnetic field, while only a volume concentration of 0.1% was used in the magnetic cases. The experiments were conducted for a range of Rayleigh numbers in . The viscosity of the nanofluid was determined experimentally, while an empirical model from the literature was used to predict the thermal conductivity of the nanofluids. An empirical correlation for the viscosity was determined, and the stability of various nanofluids was investigated.
Using heat transfer data obtained from the cavity, the average heat transfer coefficient, as well as the average Nusselt number for the nanofluids, is determined. It was found that a volume concentration of 0.05% showed an increase of 3.75% in heat transfer performance. For the magnetic field study, it was found that the best-performing magnetic field enhanced the heat transfer performance by 1.58% compared to the 0.1% volume concentration of the nanofluid with no magnetic field.
Dissertation (MEng)--University of Pretoria, 2017.