Sci Rep. 2023 Sep 15;13(1):15303. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-42489-0.
There are numerous reports and publications in reputable scientific and engineering journals that attribute substantial enhancement in heat transfer capabilities for heat exchangers once they employ nanofluids as working fluids. By definition, a nanofluid is a working fluid that has a small volume fraction (5% or less) of a solid particle with dimensions in the nanoscale. The addition of this solid material has a reported significant impact on convective heat transfer in heat exchangers. This work investigates the significance of the reported enhancements in many recent related publications. Observations on these publications’ geographical origins, fundamental heat transfer calculations, experimental setups and lack of potential applications are critically made. Heat transfer calculations based on methodologies outlined in random selection of available papers were conducted along with a statistical analysis show paradoxically inconsistent conclusion as well as an apparent lack of complete comprehension of convective heat transfer mechanism. In some of the surveyed literature for example, heat transfer coefficient enhancements were reported to be up to 27% and 48%, whereas the recalculations presented in this work restrain proclaimed enactments to ~ 3.5% and – 4% (no enhancement), respectively. This work aims at allowing a healthy scientific debate on whether nanofluids are the sole answer to enhancing convective heat transfer in heat exchangers. The quantity of literature that confirms the latter statement have an undeniable critical mass, but this volition could be stemming from and heading to the wrong direction. Finally, the challenges imposed by the physical nature of nanoparticles, as well as economic limitations caused by the high price of conventional nanoparticles such as gold (80$/g), diamond (35$/g), and silver (6$/g) that hinder their commercialization, are presented.