Research Papers

Nanofluid Properties and Their Effects on Convective Heat Transfer in an Electronics Cooling Application

[+] Author and Article Information
Jessica Townsend1

 Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, Needham, MA 02492jessica.townsend@olin.edu

Rebecca J. Christianson

 Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, Needham, MA 02492


Corresponding author.

J. Thermal Sci. Eng. Appl 1(3), 031006 (Mar 16, 2010) (9 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4001123 History: Received October 18, 2009; Revised January 22, 2010; Published March 16, 2010; Online March 16, 2010

In the search for new, more effective coolant fluids, nanoparticle suspensions have shown promise due to their enhanced thermal conductivity. However, there is a concomitant increase in the viscosity, requiring an increase in pumping power to achieve the same flow rate. Studies of flow cooling in simple geometries indicate that there is a benefit to using nanofluids, but it is difficult to justify extending these results to the far more complicated geometries. Moreover, with the variability of property measurements found in literature, it is possible to show conflicting results from the same set of flow-cooling data. In this work we present a self-contained study of the properties and effectiveness of an alumina in water nanofluid. Flow-cooling is studied in an off-the-shelf fluid cooling package for electronics to examine the effects of the particulates in a practical scenario. We measure the thermal conductivity and viscosity of the same suspensions to assure consistent interpretation of our results. We find that, while there is no anomalous enhancement of the thermal properties or transport, there is a benefit to using a low volume fraction alumina nanoparticle suspension over using the base fluid alone. In fact, there is an optimal volume fraction (1%) for this nanofluid and electronics cooling system combination that maximizes the heat dissipated. However, we find that this benefit decreases as the volume fraction, and hence the viscosity, increases. Understanding where the trade-off between viscosity increase and thermal conductivity increase occurs is critical to designing an electronics cooling system using a nanofluid as a coolant.

Copyright © 2009 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Relative thermal conductivity of alumina/DI water nanofluid as a function of volume fraction compared with literature data and the Hamilton–Crosser model

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Figure 2

Relative viscosity of alumina/DI water nanofluid as a function of volume fraction compared with literature data and the Einstein and charged suspension models

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Figure 3

Correlations for viscosities for alumina/DI water nanofluids as a function of temperature and volume fraction compared with experimental data

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Figure 4

A schematic of the flow loop used in the experiments

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Figure 5

Detail of the interior surface of the water block

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Figure 6

(a) A comparison of the base fluid (DI water) and alumina/water nanofluids ranging from 1% to 5% volume fraction shows increased heat-transfer effectiveness (represented by the Nusselt number) with both Reynolds number and volume fraction. The data for the base fluid and the 2% and 5% nanofluids fluid are shown to make the trends easier to see in the plot. (b) The same data collapse to a single curve when a fit in the functional form of the Seider–Tate correlation is applied.

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Figure 7

Junction temperature as a function of heater power and nanofluid volume fraction

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Figure 8

The junction temperature (between the water block and the heater) as a function of nanofluid volume fraction and mass flow rate



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