Investigation of thermal transport in colloidal silica dispersions (nanofluids)

David C. Venerus, Yiran Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Thermal conductivity enhancement in colloidal silica dispersions (nanofluids) is investigated experimentally using a novel optical technique. The effects of nanoparticle size, concentration, and state of aggregation are examined. New data on well dispersed systems are compared to published data obtained using the more conventional transient hotwire technique and good agreement was found. Experimental results are also compared with model predictions for relative thermal conductivity based on effective medium theory. For systems composed of larger diameter nanoparticles (̃30 nm), good agreement was found between the measured thermal conductivity enhancement and that predicted by the classical Maxwell-Garnett model. For systems composed of smaller nanoparticles (̃10 and 20 nm), thermal conductivity enhancement was reduced by as much as 10%, presumably because interfacial thermal resistance effects become important. Measurements on two systems that were induced to form gels exhibited an increase in thermal conductivity of approximately 5% relative to the well-dispersed systems. The observed increase in thermal conductivity is larger than that predicted by a recently proposed model for aggregated nanofluids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3075-3083
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nanoparticle Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Bioengineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • General Materials Science
  • Modeling and Simulation


  • Colloidal silica
  • Forced Rayleigh scattering
  • Nanofluids
  • Thermal conductivity


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