Forced convective heat transfer experiments were performed for internal flow of de-ionized water (DIW) and aqueous nanofluids (ANF) in microchannels that were integrated with a calorimeter apparatus and an array of temperature nanosensors. The heat flux and wall temperature distribution was measured for the different test fluids as a function of fluid inlet temperature, wall temperature, heat flux, nanoparticles concentration, nanoparticle materials (composition, nanoparticle size and shape) and flow rates. Anomalous behavior of the nanofluids in convective heat transfer was observed where the heat flux varied as a function of flow rate and bulk temperature. The heat exchanging surfaces were characterized using electron microscopy (SEM, TEM) to monitor the change in surface characteristics both before and after the experiments. Precipitation of nanoparticles on the walls of the microchannels can lead to the formation of “nano-fins” at low concentrations of the nanoparticles while more rampant precipitation at high concentration of the nanoparticles in the nanofluids can lead to scaling (fouling) of the microchannel surfaces leading to degradation of convective heat transfer — compared to that of pure water under the same experimental conditions. Also, competing effects resulting from the decrease in the specific heat capacity as well as anomalous enhancement in the thermal conductivity of aqueous nanofluids can lead to counter-intuitive behavior of these test liquids during forced convective heat transfer.

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