Specific heat control of nanofluids: A critical review

Hamed Riazi, Thomas Murphy, Grant B. Webber, Rob Atkin, S. Saeed Mostafavi Tehrani, Robert A. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)


Specific heat is a key thermal property in energy systems and is directly linked with heat storage and transfer. Concentrated solar thermal (CST) power plants which incorporate thermal storage show promise to deliver affordable, renewable and reliable electricity without harmful emissions. As compared to wind and photovoltaic installations, which are intermittent, CST systems (with thermal storage) represent a technology which can be dispatched to provide a good match with energy demand - or at least to maximize revenue. At present, molten salts represent the dominant thermal storage medium. However, the low specific heat value of molten salts severely limits their applicability. Increasing the specific heat of molten salts could allow for a sizable reduction in storage volume, or for more energy to be stored in the same volume. Recently, researchers have shown that the specific heat of fluids can be altered through the addition of nanoparticles, although the fundamental governing mechanisms for the observed changes in this property have not yet been agreed upon. This paper provides a comprehensive review of recent, albeit sometimes contrary, nanofluid specific heat studies. Since a critical review of the ongoing work in this field has not yet been compiled, this paper provides insights into the range and magnitude of specific heat changes. This review also discusses possible underlying enhancement mechanisms, the impacts of colloidal stability, and uses these to rationalize the diverse range of results seen in the literature. Through reviewing the salient literature, it is hoped that this paper will help to guide future efforts in controlling the specific heat of nanosalts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-38
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Thermal Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016
Externally publishedYes


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