Technical Brief

Experimental analysis of the impact of nanoinclusions and surfactants on the viscosity of paraffin-based energy storage materials

[+] Author and Article Information
Rebecca Weigand

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania 19085

Kieran Hess

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania 19085

Amy Fleischer

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania 19085

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4040781 History: Received August 02, 2017; Revised June 28, 2018


Phase change materials (PCMs) are commonly used in many applications, including the transient thermal management of electronics. For many systems paraffin-based phase change materials are a popular choice due to their high latent heat of fusion. However, paraffin-based materials exhibit low thermal conductivities and it is common to use suspended nanoinclusions to increase their effective thermal conductivity and surfactants to keep the nanoinclusions in suspension. The addition of these materials can have a positive impact on thermal conductivity, but can also increase the viscosity in the liquid phase. As increases in viscosity can negatively impact heat transfer by inhibiting convection currents, it is important to quantify this effect for these popular materials. In this paper the impact of different nanoinclusions and surfactants on the dynamic viscosity of a common paraffin wax PCM is quantified in order to determine their suitability for thermal energy storage applications. The nanoenhanced materials are found to be Newtonian in nature and to decrease in viscosity as temperature increases. The effect of the nanoparticles on the viscosity is found to be a function of the nanoparticle type with multi walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) yielding the greatest increase in viscosity. The addition of both nanoparticle and surfactant to the base PCM is found to affect the viscosity even when the loading levels of the nanoparticles or surfactant alone are not enough to affect the viscosity, thus the combination must be carefully considered in any heat transfer application.

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