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International Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer 61 (2015) 6168

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Experimental Investigation of Thermal Conductivity and Electrical

Conductivity of Al2O3 Nanouid in Water - Ethylene Glycol Mixture for
Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell Application
Irnie Zakaria c, W.H. Azmi a,, W.A.N.W. Mohamed c, Rizalman Mamat a, G. Naja b

Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Universiti Malaysia Pahang, 26600 Pekan, Pahang, Malaysia
Tarbiat Modares University, Jalale-E-Aleahmad Highway, Tehran, Iran
Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM),40450 Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Available online 27 December 2014

Aluminium oxide
Thermal conductivity
Eelectrical conductivity
Fuel cell
Thermo-electrical conductivity ratio

a b s t r a c t
Nanouid is an alternative promising cooling liquid with superior performance characteristic compared to
conventional cooling liquid for Proton Exchange Membrane fuel cell (PEMFC). In this paper, new ndings on
ratio of thermal conductivities and electrical conductivities of nanouids in water: ethylene glycol (EG) mixtures
are established. Thermal conductivities and electrical conductivities of base uids which are water: EG mixtures
with concentration ranging from 0 % ethylene glycol up to 100 % ethylene glycol were measured. These base
uids are then dispersed with Al2O3 at 0.1, 0.3 and 0.5 % of volume concentration and thermal conductivities
and electrical conductivities are then measured at temperature of 20 C. The result demonstrates that thermal
conductivities reduced as the EG content percentage increases in the water: EG mixture. Thermal conductivities
for 0.5 % volume concentration of Al2O3 is 0.6478 W/m.K and 0.2816 W/m.K for 0 and 100 % EG content in water:
EG mixture. However, at a specic EG percentage, thermal conductivities also increased as a function of volume
concentration. Electrical conductivities measured in 0.1, 0.3 and 0.5 % volume concentration of Al2O3 in base uid
also observed to decrease as the EG concentration increased even though the base uids electrical conductivity
behave differently. Thermo-electrical conductivity ratio (TEC) has also been established based on both thermal
and electrical conductivity ndings.
2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
Heat transfer advancement plays a vital role in the eld of thermal
engineering. The improvement of forced heat transfer coefcient for
cooling mediums namely water, oils, propylene glycol and ethylene
glycol have shown signicant importance due to their vast application
in the transfer of thermal energy. Apart from heat transfer coefcient,
various efforts have been taken to improve heat transfer performance
such as increasing heat transfer area and temperature difference that
results in heat ow. However all these efforts have come to a saturated
zone [1]. Miniaturization of heat transfer devices in today's globalization
world has also driven the need for developing new thermal uids with
superior heat transfer performance without sacricing the compactness
of the design. Enhancement in heat transfer performance of new
thermal uids is made possible by dispersing nano-sized particles
with diameter of 1 to 100 nm into the base liquids which results in

Communicated by W.J. Minkowycz.

Corresponding author.
E-mail addresses: (I. Zakaria),
(W.H. Azmi), (W.A.N.W. Mohamed), (R. Mamat), (G. Naja).
0735-1933/ 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

higher heat transfer coefcient compared to conventional liquids and

it is termed as nanouids [2]. These uniformly dispersed nanoparticles
in base uids have attracted researchers due to their highly enhanced
thermal conductivity property. This enhancement is due to the thermal
conductivity of nanoparticles which can be either metal or metal oxides
with many orders of magnitude higher than the liquid.
Nanoparticles in water - EG base uid has received tremendous
attention from researchers, perhaps due to its wide application in heat
transfer especially in cold countries region. Different ratios of water:
EG is generally formulated to lower the freezing point of this aqueous
solutions [3]. Propylene glycol application also served the same purpose
as ethylene glycol. However, under low temperatures, ethylene glycol
mixtures have better heat transfer characteristics compared to Propylene glycol [4].There are various studies done on thermal conductivity
properties. Lee et al. [2] observed a 40 % increase of thermal conductivity
with 10 nm Cu added to ethylene glycol base uid. Similar enhancement
also reported by Eastman et al. [5] with Cu dispersed in ethylene glycol.
However, Eastman et al. [5] also added a non-metallic nanoparticle
which turned out to be 22 % enhancement from base uid but at 4 % volume concentration. Murshed et al. [6] also experimented 5 % of both Al
and TiO2 in ethylene glycol and ndings showed that the enhancement
is 45 % and 18 % consecutively.


I. Zakaria et al. / International Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer 61 (2015) 6168


Temperature compensation
Thermal conductivity enhancement
Viscosity enhancement
Electrical double layer
eld emission scanning electron microscopy
Hydrogen exfoliated graphene
Ethylene glycol
thermal conductivity, W/m K
thermal conductivity ratio of nanouid to base uid,
thermal conductivity of pure ethylene glycol, W/m.K
mass, gram
empirical shape factor
Proton exchange membrane fuel cell
Thermo-electrical conductivity ratio
Thermal exfoliated graphene

Greek symbols

volume concentration, %

volume fraction, = (/100)

density, kg/m3

Ratio of surface area of pshere

electrical conductivity

conductivity ratio, = (p/bf)

base uid

Sundar et al. [7] experimentally studied the mixture of ethylene

glycol and Al2O3 nanoparticles at the 1.5 % volume concentration in
water: ethylene glycol for mixture of 80:20, 60:40 and 40:60 over a
temperature range and found out that the highest increment of thermal
conductivity of 32.26 % in 80:20 ratio at 60 C. He also mentioned that
ethylene glycol has a poorer thermal conductivity compared to water
and addition of ethylene glycol will only suppress the thermal conductivity of the base uid.
Same base uid ratio of 40:60 (water: ethylene glycol) has also
been studied by Vajjha and Das [8] by dispersing CuO, ZnO and Al2O3
at higher volume concentration up to 10 % in temperature range of
298 K to 363 K. He also observed that the thermal conductivity increases
with the increase of particle size. Apart from particle size, other factors
such as temperature, nano particle shape, base uid materials, additives
and aggregation effect on thermal conductivity of nanouid also been
reviewed by Philips and Shima [9].
Another frequently studied thermo-physical property of nanouid is
viscosity [7,1014]. TiO2 and Al2O3 at volume concentration range of
0 to 4 % in water: ethylene glycol mixture of 80:20 has been investigated

Fig. 1. FESEM image of dry Al2O3 nanoparticle at X 250,000 magnication. (a) Nanouid
samples after preparation. (b) Nanouid samples after a month. (c) Nanouid samples
after 10 months.

by Yiamsawas et al. [14] and deduced that the theoretical model is not
really applicable for predicting viscosity of a nanouid. Viscosity does
has a signicant role in determining whether a specic nanouid
gives a better thermal performance than its base uid thru a ratio of
enhancement in viscosity over thermal conductivity, (C /Ck). Prasher
[15] studied that the enhancement of viscosity has to be lower than 4
compared to thermal conductivity in laminar range, while Garg [16]
specied the feasible limit to 5 in turbulent ow. If the ratio goes beyond
this limit, then the nanouid application in any specic case affectivity is
Electrical conductivity is less investigated of all thermo-physical
properties of nanouids. Sources of literatures on this property are
very scarce, perhaps due to the lack of nanouid applications in the electrically active thermal devices such as PEMFC. Electrical conductivity of
a nanouid is correlated to the ability of charged ions in the nanouid
mixture to carry electrons also termed as charges whenever an electric
potential is applied [17]. This is possible due to the formation of
electrical double layer (EDL) around the surface of the dispersed nanoparticles. The whole structure movement towards oppositely charged
electrode is measured as electrical conductivity of a nanouid.
Application in PEMFC cooling system would require electrical
conductivity properties as a judgment whether it is feasible or not for
the system. The electrical conductivity requirement which is as low as
1.5 to 2 S/cm [18] and 5 S/cm at 20 C [19] which need to be maintained over time. This is a big challenge as the coolant keeps receiving
ions from contamination of bipolar plate [20] and oxidation of glycol
[21] as it degrades. Elhamid et al. [22] and Gershun et al. [23] mentioned
in their patents that high electrical conductivity in the coolant will cause
shunt current and coolant electrolysis on the electrical appliance. Shunt
current will decrease the efciency of the electrical appliance. In
addition to that, it is harmful to the user.
Efforts has been made to encounter this by adding anti oxidant to
coolant [24] while these researchers have tackled this through kerosene
hydrocarbon coolant and addition of carboxylic acid to coolant consecutively [25,26]. Nanouid also been discovered by Mohapatra [27,28]
as a potential coolant which is capable of maintaining low electrical

Table 1
Properties of nanoparticles and base uid used in the experiment.
Nano particle/Base uid
Distilled water
Ethylene glycol

Thermal conductivity , W/m.K


Electrical conductivity , S/cm




Dielectic constant

Density , kg/m3





I. Zakaria et al. / International Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer 61 (2015) 6168
Table 2
Volume of water and EG for each ratio.
EG concentration (%)

Volume of water (ml)

Volume of EG (ml)




conductivity of coolant for hundreds of hours without the usage of

de-ionizing lter. The mechanism used are through the adoption of
non-ionic corrosion inhibitor that reduces corrosion rate and also
through the highly charged nanoparticles which scavenge and bonds
free ions.
Few researchers has investigated the effect of electrical conductivity
on various type of nanouids [10,17,2939]. Wong and Kurma [29]
studied the effect of volume concentration on electrical conductivity
of Al2O3 nanouid. They observed electrical conductivity is highly

(a) Nanofluid samples after preparation


increased with a small volume concentration. The increment of electrical conductivity is up to 3457.1 % for volume concentration of 1.44 %.
The highest value of electrical conductivity was 314 S/cm and measured at 8.47 % of volume concentration.
Further investigation of electrical conductivity for Al2O3 nanouid is
carried by Ganguly et al. [30] and Minea and Luciu [38]. Ganguly et al.
[30] investigated on Al2O3 dispersed in deionized water. They measured
the effective electrical conductivity as a function of volume fraction
(0.005 to 0.03) and temperature (25 to 45 C). They concluded that
the volume fraction effect is more prominent than that of the temperature effect. Minea and Luciu [38] have measured electrical conductivity
of Al2O3 dispersed in water and observed that the electrical conductivity
has tremendously increased by 390.11 % at 60 C for 4 % volume fraction.
However, they mentioned that the conventional models such as
Maxwell [40] and Bruggeman [41] do not correlate to the ndings.
This observation is also supported by Sundar et al. [17].
Other available literatures on electrical conductivity property of
nanouid is on graphene nanouid which have been studied by
Kole and Dey [10] and Baby and Ramaprabhu [31]. Kole and Dey [10]
reported that enhancement of 8620 % for 0.395 % volume concentration
of hydrogen exfoliated graphene (HEG) in a base uid of 70:30 (EG: distilled water). On the other hand, Baby and Ramaprabhu [31] observed
that electrical conductivity value of 60 S/cm which is equivalent
to 1400 % enhancement for 0.03 % volume concentration of thermal

(b) Nanofluid samples after a month

(c) Nanofluid samples after 10 months

Fig. 2. Nanouid samples of Al2O3 in mixture water/EG (40:60). (a) Thermal conductivity measurement using KD2 Pro Thermal Analyzer. (b) Electrical conductivity measurement for
nanouids and base uid.


I. Zakaria et al. / International Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer 61 (2015) 6168

exfoliated graphene (TEG) in deionized water at temperature of 25 C.

However, this value signicantly reduced to 3.2 S/cm once dispersed
in EG. Azmi et al. [42,43] have measured electrical conductivity property
of nanouid as to determine the stability of a nanouid samples in their
Sarojini et al. [39] have experimented nanoparticles of Al2O3, CuO
and Cu in distilled water and EG. Their ndings show that electrical conductivity increases as the volume concentration increase. Increment in
distilled water is signicantly higher that nanouid in EG due to higher
value of dielectric constant of 80 in distilled water as compared to the
value of 38 in EG. They also investigated the inuence of various
physico-chemical factors on electrical conductivities of both metal and
ceramic nanoparticles. These factors include effect of nanoparticles
and base uid combination, stabilisation of nanouid, surfactant addition, particle's size and also temperature effect. They mentioned
that the stability of nanouids strongly depends on surface charge of
nanoparticle, which is related to the value of thermal conductivity.
More studies are available for different type of nanouids such as
Carbon by Teng et al. [32], SiO2 and ZnO by Konakachi et al. [35],
TiO2 by Sikdar [33], ZnO insulated with oil nanouid by Shen et al.
[37], and nanodiamond-nickel (ND-Ni) nanocomposite by Sundar
et al. [17].
Application of nanouids in fuel cells is a new area that has just been
recently explored by a coolant manufacturer [44] with the aim of
extending durability of coolant via maintaining a low electrical conductivity even after 2 years. However, there is almost no academic review
reporting about the application from perspective of PEMFC thermal
and performance improvement.
Optimum balance between all properties of nanouid is critically
important to ensure that the advantage of having nanouid replacing
conventional uid as cooling medium in PEMFC is thoroughly studied
in all aspects. Ratio of thermal conductivity and electrical conductivity
is seen as a necessity to measure the feasibility of a certain nanouid
for implementation in electrically active heat transfer application. To
author's knowledge, no study has been carried out for the establishment
of this ratio yet. This paper presents thermal conductivity and eletrical
conductivity of Al2O3 in 0.1, 0.3 and 0.5 % of volume concentration in a
whole spectrum of water:ethylene glycol as low as 0:100 until 100:0.
Electrical conductivity property also measured covering the same base
uid range. All measurements done at temperature of 20 C. Upon
completion of the measurement, a ratio of thermo-electrical conductivity
(TEC) is established. Thermo-electrical conductivity (TEC) ratio is
established to determine whether Al2O3 dispersed in any specic base
uid will give advantage in term of both thermal and electrical conductivities to fuel cell application. The higher the value the more it is favourable
for nanouid application in fuel cell. The TEC ratio of nanouids is then
mapped to the base uid TEC to observe the signicance of a specic
nanouid with respect to its base uid.

required to obtain a desired volume concentration can be estimated

from Eq. (1), using the nanoparticle density in Table 1.


mp mb f

b f


Nanoparticles are initially dispersed in base uid. Then, the mixture

is subjected to ultrasonic homogenization for the duration of one to two
hours to ensure a good dispersion of nanouids. The sample of Al2O3
nanouids were prepared for volume concentrations of 0.1, 0.3 and
0.5 % and using different EG concentrations (0 - 100 %). It is observed
through visual means for dispersion stability. No sedimentations were
found within few hours after preparation. The physical appearance of
the samples at different concentrations is shown in Fig. 2. The samples
appeared to be stable for more than a month. The thermal conductivity
and electrical conductivity are determined experimentally at a temperature of 20 C using KD2 Pro thermal property analyzer and Cyberscan
PC-10 conductivity electrode meter, respectively.
2.2. Thermal conductivity measurement
The thermal conductivity of nanouid is measured in this study
using KD2 Pro thermal property analyzer of Decagon Devices, Inc.,
USA as shown in Fig. 3(a). Quite a number of previous researchers

(a) Thermal conductivity measurement using

KD2 Pro Thermal Analyzer

2. Experimental Setup
2.1. Preparation of Nanouid
Nanoparticles used are Al2O3 with 99.8 % purity and 13 nm in size
which is procured from Sigma-Aldrich. The characterization of Al2O3
nanoparticle is obtained by the eld emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM) technique [11]. The image of FESEM at magnication of
250,000 is shown in Fig. 1. The Al2O3 nanoparticles shape is observed
spherical. The based uid is the mixture of distilled water and ethylene
glycol AR grade with 99.9 % purity. Base uids were prepared by mixing
both distilled water and ethylene glycol to form 100 ml of base uid. The
split volumes of for both water and EG are tabulated in Table 2. The
nanouids are prepared by two steps method without using any surfactant. Measured quantity of Al2O3 nanoparticles is added to a pre determined volume of a base solution. The concentration of the nanouid
in volume percent, can be estimated with Eq. (1). The mass of particles

(b) Electrical conductivity measurement

for nanofluids and base fluid
Fig. 3. Apparatus for measurement of thermal conductivity and electrical conductivity.

I. Zakaria et al. / International Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer 61 (2015) 6168


were using KD2 Pro in their measurement of thermal conductivity

[13,4548]. The KD2 Pro uses the transient line heat source to measure
the thermal properties of solids and liquids. The apparatus meets the
standards of both ASTM D5334 and IEEE 442-1981.
A model water bath of WNB7L1 by Memmert is used to maintain a
constant temperature of the sample with accuracy of 0.1 C. In order
to ensure the measurement within 5 %, at least ve measurements
were taken for each concentration at a specic temperature [47,48].
The sensor was validated by determining the thermal conductivity of
the verication liquid (glycerin) given by the supplier. The measured
value for glycerin at a temperature of 25 C is 0.280 W/mK, which is in
agreement with the calibrated data of 0.285 W/mK and within 5%
accuracy. The sensor was validated each time before the measurement
of thermal conductivity.
2.3. Electrical conductivity measurement
Electrical conductivity is measured by a 4 cell conductivity electrode
meter (Cyberscan PC-10) with built in temperature compensation
(ATC). The set up is shown in Fig. 3(b). This electrode meter is capable
of giving instantaneous electrical conductivity, pH value and temperature instantaneously upon measuring any liquid. This water proof
probe can measure electrical conductivity at range 0 to 19.99 mS and
at the temperature of 0 to 100 C. The instrument is calibrated with distilled water and ethylene glycol. The consistency of reading is checked
against established standard of ASHRAE [4].

3.1. Thermal conductivity

Hamilton and Crosser [49] developed and extension to effective
thermal conductivity by Maxwell [40] of two components mixtures as
a function of conductivity of pure materials, the composition mixture
and the shape of the dispersed particles. The conductivity of two
components mixtures can be dened as Eq. (2)



b f
b f
b f

1 32 , for p b b bf (insulating particles)

1, for p = bf (equal conductivity)
1 3, for p N N bf (highly conducting particles)

The present study represented case (a) in Maxwell model due to

poor electrical conductivity of Al2O3 compared to base uid electrical

3. Mathematical Models

kp n1kb f n1 kb f kp

 kb f

kp n1kb f kb f kp

Fig. 4. Thermal conductivity of base uid and various volume concentration of Al2O3
dispersed in water: EG mixtures.

Where kp is the thermal conductivity of nanoparticle, kbf is the

thermal conductivity of base uid, is the volume fraction and n is an

empirical shape factor. n 3 , where is the ratio of the surface area
of sphere (with a volume equal to that of the particle) to the surface
area of the particle. As for Al2O3, n = 3 [29]

3.3. Thermo-electrical conductivity (TEC) ratio

Eq. (3) is developed to determine the signicance of addition Al2O3
in specic base uid water: EG mixture. The signicance differs from
one base uid to another and it is inuenced by thermal conductivity
and electrical conductivity properties. The ratio is applicable for liquid
cooled fuel cell and is termed as Thermo-electrical conductivity ratio,
TEC ratio.
TEC is expressed as in Eq. 4
5kn f

TEC n f
n f kEG

Where knf and kEG refers to thermal conductivity of nanouid

and pure ethylene glycol respectively. Meanwhile nf is referring to

3.2. Electrical conductivity

The effective electrical conductivity model was developed by Maxwell [40] for liquid-solid suspensions. This model is applicable to all
homogeneous, randomly dispersed low volume fraction of solid in liquid suspensions. It also applicable for non-interacting, uniformly sized
spherical particles. The model predicts that the effective conductivity
of suspension eff, is a function of effective conductivity of particles p,
effective conductivity of base uid bf and also the volume fraction
of the particles, and it is given by Eq. (3)

eff 1


21 b f

Where bpf is the conductivity ratio of the two phases.

Cruz et al. [50] has generalized the Maxwell's model that leads to the
following cases depending on the conducting nature of both particle
and base uid.

Fig. 5. Comparison of thermal conductivity with Hamilton and Crosser model [49].


I. Zakaria et al. / International Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer 61 (2015) 6168

electrical conductivity of a nanouid. Value of 5 is used in the equation

as that represents the permissible value of electrical conductivity by
PEMFC stack maker [19].

Fig. 7 shows the effective electrical conductivity of base uid

mixtures of water: EG at temperature of 20 C. It is of interest to point
out that the base uid effective electrical conductivity property does
not have a linear relationship to EG content % as displayed by effective
thermal conductivity property in Fig. 4. Highest electrical conductivity

is observed at the range of 30 to 50 % of EG content which is 10.51,

10.02 and 9.64 S/cm respectively. This experimental data has been
compared against industrial data provided by MEGlobal [51]. A similar
trend is observed despite the highest electrical conductivity recorded
at lower concentration of EG which is at 10 to 30 % but at a higher value
than the experimental data which were 15.8, 14.1 and 11.6 S/cm
consecutively. This difference might be due to the additive content effect
in pure EG used in the experiment as compared to industrial data.
Electrical conductivity property of water: EG mixture drastically enhanced by having the addition of nanoparticle. Interestingly, the electrical
conductivity property is no longer following the base uid pattern. This
signicant nding can be clearly seen from Fig. 8. The electrical conductivity of pure water with 0 % EG enhanced tremendously from 2.42 S/cm to
36.97 S/cm. Mixture of 10 % EG content also portraying a signicant
boost in electrical conductivity property from 6.34 S/cm in base uid to
15.96, 24.96 and 42.16 S/cm for 0.1, 0.3 and 0.5 volume % Al2O3 consecutively. The enhancement of electrical conductivity is expected due to
higher ratio of water as a polar liquid as opposed to EG. The main cause
of the enhancement is due to the formation of surface charges by
nanoparticle's polarisation effect once dispersed in a polar uid [52].
Electrical conductivity property is also increased as a function of
volume concentration. The inuence of volume concentration to this
property is consistent over the whole range of water: EG mixtures.
Electrical conductivity of 5.69, 7.49 and 8.85 S/cm is measured for
0.1, 0.3 and 0.5 % Al2O3 in 50 % EG concentration consecutively.
This experimental data has been plotted against Maxwell model [40]
as illustrated in Fig. 9 for 0.3 % volume concentration of Al2O3 nanouid.
The experimental data is comparable starting from 40 % EG concentration onwards with maximum percentage difference of 30.5 % at EG concentration of 70 %. However, a smaller percentage difference is observed
once the EG concentration exceeding 80 %. For a ratio range of 0 to 30 %
of EG content in water: EG mixtures, effective conductivity behavior is
under predicted by Maxwell [40] model for case of p b b bf (insulating
particles). In Maxwell's model, Al2O3 particles having a poor electrical
conductivity characteristic will eventually reduces the relative electrical
conductivity of a nanouid but the ndings show otherwise. This agrees
well with ndings from Ganguly et al. [30] and Sarojini et al. [52]. Both
of them conducted experimental works on Al2O3 dispersed in water as
the base uid and observed enhancement of electrical conductivity by
having Al2O3 as an additive.
Electrical conductivity of nanouids started to behave as per
Maxwell's model upon reaching EG concentration of 40 % and above.
This is due to the dominant of EG which is a mild polar liquid [52] in
the water: EG mixture. The polarization process is weaker than water
dominant mixture as there is less availability of polar molecules. Hence

Fig. 6. Thermal conductivity enhancement in water: EG mixtures.

Fig. 7. Electrical conductivity of water and EG mixtures [4].

4. Results and Discussion

4.1. Thermal Conductivity Enhancement
Experiments were performed as a function of volume concentrations
for 0.1, 0.3 and 0.5 % dispersed in water: EG mixture. EG content were
varied from 0 to 100. Thermal conductivity were measured at 20 C.
Fig. 4 shows the thermal conductivity of nanouid with different
volume concentrations of suspended Al2O3 nanoparticle in water: EG
mixtures. The observed trend is that the thermal conductivity decreases
with increasing EG content in the mixture and it also increases with
increasing volume concentration of nanouid. The measured value of
based uids are in agreement with the data given by ASHRAE [4]
with deviation of less than 0.4 %. The highest thermal conductivity of
0.603 W/m.K is measured at base uid with 0 % concentration of
ethylene glycol. Meanwhile, the pure EG gives the lowest thermal
conductivity of 0.245 W/m.K as base uid.
This experimental of thermal conductivity of 0.1, 0.3 and 0.5 % Al2O3
has been compared against a well-known mixture model of Hamilton
and Crosser's (1962) in Fig. 5. The experimental result plotted agrees
well to the proposed model with maximum error of 1.85, 7.13 and
11.89 % for 0.1, 0.3 and 0.5 % Al2O3 consecutively. The experimental
data of nanouid indicated higher thermal conductivity than the proposed Hamilton and Crosser model [49] for 0.3 and 0.5 % Al2O3 in
water: EG mixtures. However, as for the 0.1 % Al2O3, both experimental
and models coincide nicely in Fig. 5 for pure water and EG concentration
with an average deviation of 0.8 %.
Thermal conductivity enhancement plotted against EG concentration percentage showing maximum enhancement of 2.96, 8.2 and
12.82 % for 0.1, 0.3 and 0.5 volume % Al2O3 consecutively. The maximum
enhancement is observed in 70, 80 and 100 % EG with concentration of
0.1, 0.3 and 0.5 % Al2O3 respectively. This enhancement information is
best presented by Fig. 6.
4.2. Electrical Conductivity Enhancement

I. Zakaria et al. / International Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer 61 (2015) 6168


Fig. 8. Electrical conductivity of Al2O3 at various volume concentrations in all range of

water- EG mixtures.

Fig. 10. Enhancement percentage of nanouid in water: EG mixtures.

it is seen as an opportunity for implementation in an electrically active

environment such as fuel cell since the electrical conductivity is reduced
or at least equivalent to base uid's electrical conductivity property.
The enhancement ratio of effective electrical conductivity of
nanouid over electrical conductivity of base uid is best presented by
Fig. 10. Increment percentage as high as 1428 % gained by 0.5 % volume
concentration of Al2O3 in pure water followed by 565, 174 and 54.5 % for
0.5 % volume concentration of Al2O3 in 10, 20 and 30 % EG content respectively. The negative increment was experienced in 40 to 90 % EG
content before it is once again enhanced in pure EG electrical conductivity. The maximum depreciation for electrical conductivity is measured
at 0.1 % volume concentration of Al2O3 in 60 % EG content.

A balance of both thermal and electrical conductivities is needed in

order to evaluate the feasibility of nanouid adoption in electrically active environment of thermal application such as fuel cell. Both
properties are severely needed for the excellency of PEMFC performance. Thermal conductivity is denitely improved by having
the Al2O3 nanouid as cooling medium and the higher thermal conductivity is favorable for heat transfer purpose. However, strict limit
of electrical conductivity in PEMFC application need to be adhered in
order to improve the overall PEMFC performance. Thermo-electrical

conductivity (TEC) ratio is established to determine whether Al2O3

dispersed in any specic base uid will give advantage in term of
both thermal and electrical conductivities to fuel cell application.
The higher the value the more it is favourable for nanouid application
in fuel cell.
Pure water is seen as giving highest ratio for TEC as shown in Fig. 11.
However, any addition of Al2O3 into this base uid will react inversely to
the ratio. Addition of Al2O3 in this case as low as 0.1 to 0.5 % volume concentrations will suppress the ratio to as low as 0.35 which is undesirable
for the application. The same phenomena are seen in EG content of 10,
20 and 30 %. Al2O3 adoption in 40 % EG content will start to perform similar to its base uid performance. TEC ratio for 0.1 % volume concentration of Al2O3 in 50 % EG content started to show some signicant if Al2O3
is to be adopted as cooling medium. However, similar performance
is observed from 0.3 and 0.5 % Al2O3 in the same EG concentration.
The signicance of having Al2O3 in base uid is greater in base uid
with EG content higher than 60 % onwards.
It is worth to mention that with this ratio establishment, Al2O3
adoption as fuel cell cooling medium is feasible in 60:40 and 50:50
(water: EG) ratio. Though adoption of Al2O3 in higher EG content is
more signicant than its base uid performance but it is not recommended due to the risk of exceeding maximum allowable coolant
pressure especially during cold start up [19]. Further experimental heat
transfer evaluation need to be done in order to verify this condition.

Fig. 9. Comparison of effective electrical conductivity of Al2O3 at 0.3 % volume concentrations in all range of water - EG mixtures.

Fig. 11. Thermal conductivity and electrical conductivity ratio of Al2O3 at various volume
concentrations in all range of water - EG mixtures.

4.3. TEC Ratio Evaluation


I. Zakaria et al. / International Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer 61 (2015) 6168

5. Conclusions
Both thermal and electrical conductivities across a complete range of
base uid (water: EG) ratios have been experimentally determined.
Alterations to these properties due to dispersion of low concentration of
0.1, 0.3 and 0.5 % Al2O3 were also observed. Thermal conductivities of
0.1, 0.3 and 0.5 % Al2O3 are highest at pure water and slowly decreased
as the EG percentage is increased. It agrees well with Hamilton-crosser
model [49]. Thermal conductivities also observed to increase as a function
of volume concentration as expected. However, electrical conductivities
value is showing astounding result as alteration of 0.1, 0.3 and 0.5 %
Al2O3 in its base uid no longer following the base uid electrical conductivity behavior. Base uid of pure water has one of the lowest electrical
conductivity of 2.42 S/cm but this has tremendously increased by 800,
1219 and 1440 % increment with dispersion of 0.1, 0.3 and 0.5 % Al2O3
respectively. The signicant increment is observed for EG concentration
of 40 % and lower. This is under predicted by classical model of Maxwell
[40]. A thermo-electrical conductivity (TEC) ratio has been established
in order to assess the signicance of Al2O3 in electrically active thermal
device environment such as fuel cell. The high value of TEC ratio is
favorable but limitation to EG content of not exceeding 50 % need to be
complied in order to avoid risk of excessive allowable coolant pressure
to the cooling system. Further experimental work is needed in order to
verify the accuracy of the TEC ratio established.
The author would like to thank Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM)
and Universiti Malaysia Pahang for nancial supports given under
600-RMI/RAGS 5/3 (51/2013) and RDU1403110.
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