Discussion of proposed mechanisms of thermal conductivity enhancement in nanofluids Academic Article uri icon


  • Based upon Green-Kubo linear response theory, we use the exact expression for the heat flux vector of the base fluid plus nanoparticle system to estimate the contribution of nanoparticle Brownian motion to thermal conductivity. We find that its contribution is too small to account for abnormally high reported values. The possibility of convection caused by Brownian particles is also found to be unlikely. We have estimated the mean free path and the transition speed of phonons in nanofluid through density functional theory. We found a layer structure can form around the nanoparticles and the structure does not further induce fluid-fluid phase transition in the bulk fluid. By analyzing the compressibility of the fluid, we have also investigated the sound speed in the nanofluid. For the models of an asymmetric hard sphere mixture representing the single spherical nanoparticles and a mixture of rods and hard spheres representing aggregates, both suspended in the fluid, we found that for the very low volume fraction cases, the compressibility changes little. This shows that the speed of phonon transition does not change due to the addition of nanoparticles of either type. Our results indicate that, besides the enhancement due to the high thermal conductivity of nanoparticles themselves, fluid molecules make no evident contribution to the enhancement of thermal conductivity attributable to the presence of the nanoparticles at volume fractions less than 5%. 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Nie, C., Marlow, W. H., & Hassan, Y. A.

citation count

  • 74

complete list of authors

  • Nie, Chu||Marlow, WH||Hassan, YA

publication date

  • March 2008