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Solar Energy 85 (2011) 379–387

Thermal performance of an open thermosyphon using nanofluids

for high-temperature evacuated tubular solar collectors
Part 1: Indoor experiment
Lin Lu a,b, Zhen-Hua Liu a,⇑, Hong-Sheng Xiao c
School of Mechanical Engineering, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai 200240, PR China
School of Material Science and Engineering, Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute, Jingdezhen 333001, PR China
Jiangsu Sunshore Solar Energy Industry Co. Ltd., Nantong 226301, PR China

Received 1 July 2010; received in revised form 23 October 2010; accepted 4 November 2010
Available online 8 January 2011

Communicated by: Associate Editor Ruzhu Wang


An especial open thermosyphon device used in high-temperature evacuated tubular solar collectors was designed. The indoor exper-
imental research was carried out to investigate the thermal performance of the open thermosyphon using respectively the deionized water
and water-based CuO nanofluids as the working liquid. Effects of filling rate, kind of the base fluid, nanoparticle mass concentration and
the operating temperature on the evaporating heat transfer characteristics in the open thermosyphon were investigated and discussed.
Experiment results show the optimal filling ratio to the evaporator is 60% and the thermal performance of the open thermosyphon
increase generally with the increase of the operating temperature. Substituting water-based CuO nanofluids for water as the working fluid
can significantly enhance the thermal performance of the evaporator and evaporating heat transfer coefficients may increase by about
30% compared with those of deionized water. The CuO nanoparticles mass concentration has remarkable influence on the heat transfer
coefficient in the evaporation section and the mass concentration of 1.2% corresponds to the optimal heat transfer enhancement.
Ó 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Solar collectors; Thermosyphon; Nanofluids; Heat transfer enhancement

1. Introduction This type of heat pipe is known as thermosyphon or wickless

gravity assisted heat pipe. Common thermosyphon is a
The world market for solar water heaters has expanded tubular construction and can easily be integrated into flat
significantly in the last decade. Evacuated tubular solar plate or evacuated tubular solar heating systems. Much
water heaters have lower thermal losses and higher efficiency research has been carried out to understand the thermal per-
than flat plate solar water heaters (Morrison et al., 1984). In formance of common two-phase thermosyphon used in
order to improve the thermal performance of evacuated solar water heaters, such as Emmanouil and Vassilis
tubular solar water heaters or get higher fluid temperature, (2002) used a wickless gravity assisted loop heat pipe for
various heat pipe devices were integrated into flat plate or the heat transfer from the collector–evaporator to the tank
evacuated tubular solar heating systems. Heat pipes that through a heat exchanger–condenser. Wongee et al. (1999)
working under gravity with the condenser above the evapo- reported a solar domestic hot water system manufactured
rator does not require external power or capillary action to with heat pipes and showed the performance data stemming
return the working fluid from condenser to the evaporator. from the differences in working fluids, presence of a wick,
and other various design parameters associated with the
⇑ Corresponding author. Tel.: +86 21 34206568; fax: +86 21 34203530. collection and utilization of solar energy. Esen. M and Esen.
E-mail address: (Z.-H. Liu). H (2005) investigated the thermal performance of a

0038-092X/$ - see front matter Ó 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
380 L. Lu et al. / Solar Energy 85 (2011) 379–387


A heating area (m2) w mass concentration of nanoparticles

Csf constant, determined from experimental data k thermal conductivity (W/m/k)
cp specific heat of water (J/kg/K) r surface tension (N/m)
g gravity acceleration (m/s2) v kinematic viscosity (m2/s)
h heat transfer coefficient (W/K/m2) q density (kg/m3)
hfg latent heat of evaporation (J/kg) h inclined angle
I current (A)
p pressure (Pa) Subscripts
Pr Prandtl number l liquid
Q heating power (W) v vapor
q heat flux (W/m2) n nanofluid
T temperature (°C) w water
DT wall superheat (K) e evaporator
U uncertainty hl heat loss
V voltage (V) max maximum

two-phase thermosyphon solar collector using different thermosyphon to enhance its heat transfer performance.
refrigerants. Riffat et al. (2005) designed a thin membrane Xue et al. (2006) carried out an investigation about the
heat pipe solar collector and investigated the thermal perfor- interface effect of carbon nanotube (CNT) suspension with
mance of the collector. Hiroshi et al. (2005) designed a ver- surfactant on the thermal performance of a thermosyphon.
tical multiple-effect diffusion-type solar system that coupled Liu et al. (2007) investigated the effect of nanoparticle
with a heat pipe. Hussein (2002) presented an unsteady state parameters on the thermal performance in a miniature
theoretical and experimental investigation of natural circu- thermosyphon using CuO nanofluids without surfactant.
lation two-phase closed thermosyphon in a flat plate solar Liu et al. (2010) also investigated the thermal performance
water heater. Chen et al. (2009) investigated experimentally in the same miniature thermosyphon using carbon
the long-term thermal performance of a two-phase ther- nanotube (CNT) suspensions without surfactant. The
mosyphon solar water heater and compared the results with experimental results are similar to those using CuO nanofl-
the conventional systems. In the above researches, all ther- uids. Khandekar et al. (2008) investigated the total heat
mosyphon used in solar water heaters were cylindrical con- resistance of a thermosyphon using pure water and various
struction in which one end was an evaporator section and water-based nanofluids containing nanoparticles of Al2O3
another end was a condenser section. Open thermosyphon, (40–47 nm), CuO (8.6–13.5 nm) and laponite clay (discs
one end of which is a closed tubular bar as the evaporator of diameter 25 nm and thickness 1 nm). Naphon et al.
and the other end is open to a container as the condenser (2008) researched the heat transfer performance of the
box, is one of the kind of thermosyphon (Kusuda and thermosyphon using titanium–ethanol nanofluids and
Immra, 1973; Fukusako et al., 1984) and has been widely titanium–water nanofluids. In addition, Naphon et al.
applied in energy extraction, heat storage, and heat trans- (2009) also investigated that the heat transfer performance
mission systems. Typical examples utilizing such an open of the heat pipe using nanofluids consisting of R11 refrig-
thermosyphon include low-density heat recovery, gas erant and titanium nanoparticles with the particle size of
turbine blade cooling, electrical machine rotor cooling, 21 nm. Sameer et al. (2008) investigate the overall thermal
transformer cooling, and nuclear reactor cooling. However, resistance of closed two-phase thermosyphon using
no research is found for open thermosyphon used in deionized water and various water-based nanofluids (of
evacuated tubular solar heating system. Al2O3, CuO and laponite clay) as working fluids. In Noie
Since thermosyphon utilizes phase change of the work- et al.’s study (2009), nanofluids of aqueous Al2O3 nanopar-
ing fluid to transfer heat, selection of a working fluid is ticles suspensions were prepared in various volume
essential to achieve the maximum heat transfer capacity. concentration of 1–3% and used in a two-phase closed ther-
The nanofluid (nanoparticle-suspension) was first applied mosyphon as working media. All these studies were carried
by Choi in thermal engineering due to its anomalous heat out at low pressure or low temperature conditions for
transfer characteristics (Choi, 1995). The nanofluid is a col- electric devices cooling; no experiment data were proposed
loidal suspension with nanoparticles dispersed uniformly in to understand the heat transfer characteristics of thermosy-
a base fluid and has many unique characteristics in thermal phon using nanofluids at high pressure or high-temperature
engineering fields. conditions. Therefore, heat transfer characteristics of
Enlightened by the enhanced heat transfer of nanofluids, nanofluids in high-temperature thermosyphon are still
some researchers applied nanofluids in commonly tubular unknown.
L. Lu et al. / Solar Energy 85 (2011) 379–387 381

This study made a special open thermosyphon applied

in an evacuated tubular solar heating system to obtain
high-temperature fluid. The open thermosyphon consisted
of three fundamental sections including a tubular evapora-
tor, a condenser box and a condensing coil. The present
study focused on the understanding of the foundationally
thermal performance of the open thermosyphon in an evac-
uated tubular solar heating system under several steady
operating temperatures or operating pressures under the
indoor condition. In order to improve the thermal perfor-
mance of the open thermosyphon, both deionized water
and water-based CuO nanofluids were used as working
fluids for investigate the enhanced heat transfer effect of
nanofluids in the open thermosyphon. Effects of filling rate, Fig. 2. Actual apparatus photograph.
kind of the base fluid, nanoparticle mass concentration and
operating temperature on the evaporating heat transfer
coefficient (HTC) in the open thermosyphon were investi- phon tested is shown in Fig. 2. The experimental system
gated and discussed. The experimental results are useful mainly consisted of an open thermosyphon system, a data
for designing the open thermosyphon using both water acquisition system, a power supply, a vacuum pumping
and nanofluid as the working liquid for high-temperature unit and a cooling water circulation system. The open ther-
evacuated tubular solar collectors. mosyphon consisted of a tubular evaporator, a condenser
box and condensing coil in the condenser box. The tubular
evaporator was made of a cooper tube and aslant fixed
2. Experimental apparatus and procedure with a inclined angle of 30° to the horizontal level. The
total length, inner diameter and wall thickness of the evap-
2.1. Experimental apparatus orator tube were 1750 mm, 36 mm and 1 mm, respectively.
The condenser box that made of stainless steel plates was a
The schematic of the experimental system is shown in cylindrical tank with a length of 300 mm and a diameter of
Fig. 1 and the photograph of the actual open thermosy- 180 mm. One end of the copper tube was amounted to the

1 2 3 4 5 6
vapor 13 12


16 15

22 21 20 19
A 18 17

Fig. 1. Schematic of experimental apparatus. (1) Vacuum pump (2) regulators box (3) thermal insulator (4) evaporator tube (5) vacuum valve (6) flange
plate (7) condenser box (8) condensing coil (9) heat exchanger (10) water tank (11) pump (12) rotermeter (13) water valve (14) relief valve (15)
thermocouples (16) elbow tube (17) computer (18) data acquisition system (19) DC power supply (20) transformer (21) voltmeter and (22) ammeter.
382 L. Lu et al. / Solar Energy 85 (2011) 379–387

condenser box using the elbow tube and flange along the Locations of thermocouples (mm)
axial direction. The elbow tube was also an adiabatic sec-
tion in open thermosyphon. The condenser box, the elbow 50 550 550 550 50
tube and the evaporator tube composed a closed space. The
condensing coil was placed inside condenser box and the 38 36
cooling water flowed through the condensing coil to main-
tain the operating temperature of the vapor in the test sys- 1750
Evaporator tube
tem at a steady designated temperature. In the actual solar
collector, the fluid as the coolant passed through the con- Fig. 4. Locations of thermocouples on the evaporator tube.
densing coil is just the heated high-temperature fluid. The
condenser coil was made of a cooper tube and had a length respectively amounted at the inlet and outlet of the con-
of 5 m and inner diameter of 12 mm. In the practical solar densing coil to measure the temperatures of the cooling
collector system, the tubular evaporator will be inserted water.
concentrically into the evacuated tubes with the inner
diameter of 44 mm and the length of 1.8 m in a high-tem- 2.2. Working fluids
perature solar collector with compound parabolic concen-
trator (CPC) as shown in Fig. 3. In the present indoor In this study, deionized water and water-based CuO
experiment, the tubular evaporator was heated by an elec- nanofluids were used as the working fluid. CuO nanoparti-
trical heater surrounding at the tubular evaporator circum- cles were commercial products made by the gas-condensa-
ference instead of solar energy. The tubular evaporator tion method. The mean average diameter reported by the
with the electrical heater was put in a stainless steel tube maker was 50 nm. The nanofluids were prepared by
with the diameter of 100 mm, and, the interval between directly dispersing CuO nanoparticles into the base fluids,
the two tubes was filled with asbestos for the purpose of after which they were oscillated continuously for about
thermal insulation. The condensing coil was connected to 10 h in an ultrasonic water bath with a working frequency
the cooling water circulation system and the temperature of 25–40 kHz so that the nanoparticles could be uniformly
and flow rate of the cooling water flowed across the con- dispersed. This oscillation time was a conference time and
densing coil was controlled accurately to keep a steady could ensure a full dispersion. It must be noted that no sur-
operating temperature or pressure during the whole test factant was added into the base liquid. In the study, the
produce. The condenser box provided three lateral open- mass concentration of the nanofluids arranged from 0.8%
ings for charging line and vacuum line and safety line. to 1.5%. Fig. 5 shows the SEM photographs of CuO nano-
Four thermocouples were weld on lateral location of the particle suspensions with the mass concentrations of
outer surface of the tubular evaporator along the axial 1.0 wt.%.
direction to measure the wall temperature distributions The mass concentration w was used to describe the
along the axial direction. The amounted locations of the nanoparticle concentration; the detailed thermophysical
thermocouples were shown in Fig. 4. One thermocouple properties of CuO nanofluids may be found in ours previ-
was amounted on the elbow tube to measure the wall ous study (Liao et al., 2010).
temperature of the adiabatic section. The measured
temperature at the adiabatic section centre was used as
the operating temperature of the test thermosyphon which
represented the saturation temperature of steam in the test
thermosyphon. In addition, two thermocouples were

Fig. 5. SEM photographs of CuO nanoparticle suspension with concen-

Fig. 3. Outdoor experimental apparatus photograph with CPC. tration of 1.0 wt.%.
L. Lu et al. / Solar Energy 85 (2011) 379–387 383

2.3. Experimental process 1%. The uncertainty of the wall superheat was 8%. There-
fore, the maximum uncertainty of the HTC was estimated
Indoor experiments were carried out under actual heat- to be 9.8%.
ing power range of a high-temperature evacuated tubular
solar collector with CPC plate. It was assumed that all 3. Experimental results and discussion
solar radiation from the CPC plate was transmitted
through the glass tube to the surface of the evaporator tube 3.1. Determination of the optimal liquid filling ratio
amounted in evacuated tube solar collector and that all the
absorbed solar energy was transferred to the condenser. To Fig. 6 plots the effect of the filling ratio that was defined
evacuated tubular solar collectors with CPC, more solar as the ratio of the liquid volume to the whole volume of the
energy is collected and the concentration ratio of solar evaporator tube on the evaporating heat transfer coefficient
energy can be reached 10. So several solar radiation flux (HTC) under the operating temperatures of 70 °C for
levels can theoretically reach 10 kW/m2. Therefore, the test deionized water. It is found from Fig. 6 that the HTC is
maximum heat flux was 10 kW/m2 in the present experi- at the optimal circumstance when the filling ratio is 60%
ment. Meantime, the highest operating temperature of than other filling ratios. For other operating temperatures,
the open thermosyphon was set at 180 °C. the present experiment has confirmed that the HTC was
At the beginning of each test, the whole system was vac- also the best when the filling ratio was fixed at 60%. There-
uumed to a pressure of 0.08 Pa before the charging of the fore, it could be concluded that there existed an optimal
working fluid. During each run, the mass flow rate of the filling ratio to the open thermosyphon and this optimal
cooling water/steam was carefully adjusted to keep the filling ratio was 60% for all operating temperatures.
operating temperature at a stable value during whole test
produce. The temperature data from the thermocouples
3.2. Wall temperature distributions for both water and CuO
was recorded by the data acquisition system only after
the wall temperatures of the open thermosyphon remained
stable for a long time. The voltage and the current of the
Fig. 7a and b show the outer wall temperature distribu-
AC power supply were also recorded to calculate the heat-
tions of the open thermosyphon using both deionized water
ing power.
and the CuO nanofluid with a mass concentration of
The heat flux of the evaporator section, q, was calcu-
1.2 wt.% under the operation temperature of 70 °C, respec-
lated by,
tively. At low input powers, wall temperature distributions
q ¼ ðVI  Qhl Þ=A ð1Þ are nearly the same for the CuO nanofluids and water.
Inner wall temperature was calculated by one-dimen- However, at high input powers, wall temperature distribu-
sional thermal conductivity from the wall temperature of tion for the CuO nanofluid is apparently lower than that
the outer surface and the heat flux. Wall superheat was for the deionized water. For example, the highest wall tem-
calculated by the difference of inner wall surface tempera- perature of the evaporator decreases to 90 °C from original
ture and the saturation temperature of the vapor. Heat 96 °C after substituting the nanofluid for water at input
transfer coefficient (HTC) of the evaporator section was power of 1580 W. For a high-temperature solar collector,
calculated by, in the high-temperature range, a small decrease of the wall
temperature on the heating surface can cause a great
h¼ ð2Þ increase of the absorbing solar energy in solar collector;
The experimental uncertainties of the heat flux and the
HTC were given respectively as:
sffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi 480
 2  2  2  
Uq UV UI UA U Qhl 2 470
¼ þ þ þ ð3aÞ 460
q V max I max Amax Qhl
sffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi 450
he ( W/m /K)

 2  2
Uh Uq U DT

¼ þ ð3bÞ
h q DT 430 Tv=70oC
To calculate the heat loss, the heat absorbed by the cool- Filling rate
ing water in the condenser section and the heat power sup- 410 40%
plied to the evaporator were compared. The heat loss 400
accounted for 5% of the heat power. The maximum tem- 390 70%
perature uncertainty of the thermocouple was 0.2 K. The 380
1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 8000 9000 10000
maximum uncertainties of the voltage, the current and
q ( w/m2)
the pressure were 0.1%, 0.1% and 0.5%, respectively. The
uncertainty caused by the heating area should be less than Fig. 6. Effect of the filling ratio on the evaporating HTC.
384 L. Lu et al. / Solar Energy 85 (2011) 379–387

100 960
Water Heating power
Filling rate=60% 600 W
95 800 W 840
o water
Tv = 70 C 1050 W 780 T =50 C

he ( W/m /K)
90 1220 W 720 T =60 C

1330 W T =70 C
Tw ( 0C )

1450 W T =90 C
85 1580 W 600
T =100 C
T =120 C

80 480
T =140 C
420 T =160 C

360 T =170 C
1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 8000 9000 10000
70 q ( w/m2)
0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 1800
X (mm) Fig. 8. Effect of the operating temperature on the evaporating HTC.
(a) deionized water
Effect of the operating temperature or operating pres-
99 sure on the HTC for deionized water in evaporator is
CuO nanofluids = 1.2 wt% Heating power
Filling rate=60%
600 W shown also in Fig. 8. It is found that the evaporating
800 W
93 o
Tv = 70 C 1050 W HTC in the thermosyphon greatly increases with the
90 1220 W increase of the operating temperature. After the operating
1330 W
87 1450 W
temperature is over 100 °C, the increase of the HTC has
Tw ( 0C )

1580 W an apparent jump. It may be due to that the geyser boiling

has occurred on the heated surface. The number and disen-
gaged frequency of bubbles jumpily increase and thence the
78 HTC also has a jumpily increase.
72 3.4. Thermal performance of the evaporator for CuO
69 nanofluids
0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 1800
X (mm) Fig. 9 gives out the relations between the evaporating
(b) CuO nanofluidswith concentration of 1.2wt% HTC and the heat flux under the operating temperature
Fig. 7. Wall temperature distributions along the evaporator tube at
of 100 °C for nanofluids. The mass concentration of CuO
different power inputs. nanoparticles is varied as a parameter, and the range of
CuO nanoparticles mass concentration is from 0.8 wt.%
therefore, the decrease of the evaporator temperature to 1.5 wt.%. It is found that all HTC values of nanofluids
means an apparent enhancement of the thermal efficiency move upwards significantly compared with that of deion-
for high-temperature solar collectors. ized water. The heat transfer enhancement effects are
remarkable after substituting CuO nanofluids for water.
3.3. Thermal performance of the evaporator for deionized In addition, the experimental results indicate that the
Fig. 8 illustrates the relations between the evaporating 680 T v =100 C
HTC and the heat flux under different operating tempera- 660
ture for deionized water. The HTC slowly increases with Nanofluids
640 0.8%
the increase of the heat flux for all operating conditions. 1.0%
he ( W/m /K)

According to the relation between the HTC and the heat 620 1.2%

flux, it can be confirmed that the heat transfer pattern in 600
the evaporator is the convective evaporation or geyser boil- 580
ing. As we all know, different heat transfer patterns inside 560
the thermosyphon exist with changes in heat transfer char-
acteristics. Heat transfer pattern in the thermosyphon can
be divided into three regions, which are convection, geyser 520

boiling, and fully nucleate boiling. In the present study, 500

1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 8000 9000 10000
because the heat flux was relatively low and no exceeded
q ( w/m2)
10 kW/m2, so no fully nucleate boiling occurred and the
mode of heat transfer is the convective evaporation. Fig. 9. Effect of concentrations of nanofluids on the evaporating HTC.
L. Lu et al. / Solar Energy 85 (2011) 379–387 385

CuO nanoparticle mass concentration has great influence by changes of thermophysical properties of nanofluids
on the heat transfer. Compared with that of water, the yet. The reason why the enhancement ratio of the HTC
HTCs of nanofluids gradually increase with increasing increases with the decrease of the operating temperature
the nanoparticle mass concentration when the nanoparticle cannot be well quantitatively explained.
mass concentration is less than 1.2 wt.%. Then, the HTC For the vertical thermosyphon, the evaporating HTC
obtains a best value at the mass concentration of can be estimated using the semi-empirical and semi-theo-
1.2 wt.%. Finally, the HTC has a slight worsening trend retical correlations of falling film evaporation on a vertical
when the mass concentration is over 1.2 wt.%. It is clear wall proposed by Rohsenow (1962)
that there exists an optimal CuO nanoparticle mass con-
centration that corresponds to the maximum heat transfer he ¼  ð4Þ
 1=2 0:33
enhancement and this optimal mass concentration is about C sf hfg 1 r
Pr 1:7
C pl hfg ll g½ql qv t
1.2 wt.%. Although no plotted in this paper, the optimal
mass concentration of 1.2 wt.% is also available for all
or Imura et al. (1977)
other operating temperatures tested. At this optimal con- ! 
centration, the mean HTC of the nanofluid can be 0:3 0:7 0:2 0:4 0:3
w kw C pl g qe P sat
increased by about 15% under the operating temperatures he ¼ 0:32 0:4 0:1
v hfg lw
of 100 °C compared with that of water.
Fig. 10 illustrates the dependence of the enhancement where Psat is saturation vapor pressure, Pa is atmosphere
ratio of evaporating HTC, which is defined as the ratio pressure.
of the evaporating HTC of nanofluids to that of water, For the inclined thermosyphon, Eqs. (4) and (5) still can
on the operating temperature and the heat flux. At low heat be applied after the gravity item is revised.
fluxes, the enhancement ratio is basically close to unity and
there is no meaningful enhanced heat transfer effect. Then q2=3
he ¼   1=2 0:33 ð6Þ
with the increase of the heat flux, the enhancement ratio C sf hfg
increases gradually for all operating temperatures. In addi- C pl
hfg ll
g sin h½ql qv t
tion, it should be noted that the enhancement ratio
increases with the decrease of the operating temperature. and:
For the operating temperature of 50 °C, the maximum 0:3 0:7 0:2 0:4
w kw C pl ðg sin hÞ qe P sat
and the average enhancement ratios can reach about 1.3 he ¼ 0:32 0:4 0:1
and 1.23, respectively. However, at the operating tempera- q0:25
v hfg lw
ture of 160 °C, the maximum and the average enhancement
Fig. 11 gives out the comparison of the evaporating
ratio reach about 1.13 and 1.09, respectively. It is well
HTCs between the experimental data and the predicting
known that the thermal performance of thermosyphon
correlations at the operating temperature of 100 °C. It is
increases generally with the increase of the operating tem-
found that the experimental data of the HTC for deionized
perature. The reason may be explained by the changes of
water agree reasonably well with Eq. (7) and the experi-
thermophysical properties of the working fluid with the
mental values are slightly larger than the calculated values
operating temperature. However, in the present study
with a maximum relative error of 22%. However, for the
stage, the effect of the operating temperature on the
nanofluid, the experimental data of the HTC have great
enhancement ratio of the HTC cannot be explained only

1.36 wt%
1.32 TV=70
1.28 TV=100
he ( W/m /K)

1.24 TV=160






1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 8000 9000 10000
q ( w/m2)

Fig. 10. Heat transfer enhancement ratio of nanofluid on the evaporating Fig. 11. Comparison of the evaporating HTCs between the experimental
HTC. data and predicting correlations.
386 L. Lu et al. / Solar Energy 85 (2011) 379–387

deviation compared with Eq. (7) and the experimental To sum up, the thermal performance of the evaporator
values are apparently larger than the predicting values. increase generally with the increase of the operating tem-
The calculated results mean also that the enhancement perature. The CuO nanoparticles mass concentration has
ratio of the HTC for nanofluids cannot be described only remarkable influence on the heat transfer coefficient in
by changes of thermophysical properties of nanofluids. the evaporation section and it is confirmed that CuO nano-
fluids with a mass concentration of 1.2% as the working
3.5. Heat transfer enhancement mechanism of nanofluids fluid can evidently strengthen the evaporating HTC under
all operating temperatures. The experiment data mentioned
Fig. 12 shows a SEM photograph of the inner wall of above are gained in the indoor condition. We would carry
the evaporator section after the test using the nanofluid out an outdoor experiment in the next study step.
with mass concentration of 1.2 wt.% at the operating tem-
perature of 100 °C. It is found that there is an extremely 4. Conclusions
thin porous coating layer on the wall. The main elements
in the coating layer are O and Cu. Therefore, the perfor- An especial open thermosyphon device that matches for
mance of the thermosyphon using nanofluids cannot return high-temperature evacuated tubular solar collectors was
to the original state using deionized water due to the designed. An indoor experimental research was carried
change of the heated surface status. out to investigate the thermal performance of the open ther-
In the present study, the convective evaporation heat mosyphon using both deionized water and water-based
transfer in the liquid film dominated the thermal perfor- CuO nanofluids as the working liquid. The convective heat
mance of the evaporator. The heat transfer enhancement transfer dominates the heat transfer in the open thermosy-
may result mainly from four reasons. Firstly, the increase phon and then the heat transfer coefficient slightly increases
of the effective thermal conductivity of the nanofluid can with the increase of the heat flux in the present heat flux
enhance the conductive heat transfer. Secondly, the decease range tested. There exists an optimal filling ratio of 60%
of the solid–liquid contact angle of the nanofluid can to the evaporator using both water and nanofluids under
increase the capillary force. These two reasons result from all operating temperatures. Wall temperatures of the open
the changes of thermophysical properties of the working thermosyphon using CuO nanofluids decrease after substi-
liquid. Thirdly, the forming of a porous coating layer on tuting nanofluids for water. The CuO nanoparticles mass
the wall can also increase the capillary force and this reason concentration has remarkable influence on the heat transfer
is due to change of the heating surface state. The fourth is in the open thermosyphon and the mass concentration of
attributed to the turbulence effect of random motion 1.2% corresponds to the optimal heat transfer enhancement
(Brownian motion) of nanoparticles in the base liquid effect.
and it is a nano-scale effect.
Reasons for exiting optimal concentration of nanoparti-
cles for the HTC enhancement can be estimated as follows
by a numerical simulation by Do and Jang (2010): With the Chen, B.R., Chang, Y.W., Lee, W.S., Chen, S.L., 2009. Long-term
increase of the mass concentration of nanoparticles, the thermal performance of a two-phase thermosyphon solar water heater.
capillary force would increase and the flow frictional force Sol. Energy 83 (7), 1048–1055.
would also increase. Therefore, there exists an optical Choi, S.U.S., 1995. Enhancing thermal conductivity of fluids with
nanoparticles, developments and applications of non-Newtonian
nanoparticles concentration that takes a balance between
flows. FED-vol. 231/MD-vol. 66, 99–105.
the capillary force and the flow frictional force. Do, K.H., Jang, S.P., 2010. Effect of nanofluids on the thermal
performance of a flat micro heat pipe with a rectangular grooved
wick. Int. J. Heat Mass Transfer 53 (9–10), 2183–2192.
Emmanouil, M., Vassilis, B., 2002. A new heat-pipe type solar domestic
hot water system. Sol. Energy 72 (1), 13–20.
Fukusako, S., Seki, N., Yamaguchi, A., 1984. Free convective heat-
transfer performance of a two-dimensional open thermosyphon with
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