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Journal of Nanomaterials
Volume 2015, Article ID 697596, 7 pages
Research Article

Effect of Nanostructure on Thermal Conductivity of Nanofluids

Department of Chemical Engineering, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA

Received 26 May 2015; Revised 5 August 2015; Accepted 24 August 2015

Academic Editor: Wei Chen

Copyright © 2015 Saba Lotfizadeh and Themis Matsoukas. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The presence of colloidal particles is known to increase the thermal conductivity of base fluids. The shape and structure of the solid particles are important in determining the magnitude of enhancement. Spherical particles—the only shape for which analytic theories exist—produce the smallest enhancement. Nonspherical shapes, including clusters formed by colloidal aggregation, provide substantially higher enhancements. We conduct a numerical study of the thermal conductivity of nonspherical structures dispersed in a liquid at fixed volume fraction in order to identify structural features that promote the conduction of heat. We find that elongated structures provide high enhancements, especially if they are long enough to create a solid network (colloidal gel). Cross-linking further enhances thermal transport by directing heat in multiple directions. The most efficient structure is the one formed by hollow spheres consisting of a solid shell and a core filled by the fluid. In both dispersed and aggregated forms, hollow spheres provide enhancements that approach the theoretical limit set by Maxwell’s theory.