This Master of Engineering investigation focuses on the natural convection of nanofluids in rectangular cavities. The governing equations applied to analyse the heat transfer and fluid flow occurring within the cavity are given and discussed. Special attention is given to the models that were developed to predict the thermal conductivity and dynamic viscosity of such nanofluids.
A review concerning past investigations into the field of natural convection of nanofluids in cavities is made. The investigation is divided into experimental works and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) numerical investigations.
Through the literature review, it was discovered that many numerical models exist for the prediction of the thermophysical properties of nanofluids, specifically thermal conductivity and viscosity. Depending on the nanofluid and the application, different models can be used.
The literature study also revealed that most previous works were done in the CFD field. Very few experimental studies have been performed. Numerical CFD investigations, however, need experimental results for validation purposes, leading to the conclusion that more experimental work is needed.
The heat transfer capability and thermophysical properties of the nanofluid are investigated based on models found in literature. The investigation incudes measuring the heat transfer inside a cavity filled with a nanofluid and subjected to a temperature gradient. The experiment is performed for several volume fractions of particles. An optimum volume fraction of 0.005 is obtained. At this volume fraction the heat transfer enhancement reaches a maximum for the present investigation.
The investigation is repeated as a numerical investigation using the commercially available CFD software ANSYS-FLUENT. The same case as used in the experimental investigation is modelled as a two-dimensional case and the results are compared. The same optimum volume fraction and maximum heat transfer is obtained with an insignificantly small difference between the two methods of investigation. This error can be attributed to the minor heat losses experienced from the experimental setup as in the CFD adiabatic walls considered. It is concluded that, through the inclusion of TiO2 particles in the base fluid (deionised water), the thermophysical properties and the heat transfer capability of the fluid are altered. For a volume fraction of 0.005 and heat transfer at a temperature difference of 50 °C, the heat transferred through the fluid in the cavity is increased by more than 8%.
From the results, it is recommended that the investigation is repeated with TiO2 particles of a different size to determine the dependency of the heat transfer increase on the particle size. Various materials should also be tested to determine the effect that material type has on the heat transfer increase.
Dissertation (MEng)--University of Pretoria, 2017.