Surface tension, viscosity, and rheology of water-based nanofluids: a microscopic interpretation on the molecular level

G Lu and YY Duan and XD Wang, JOURNAL OF NANOPARTICLE RESEARCH, 16, 2564 (2014).

DOI: 10.1007/s11051-014-2564-2

Nanofluids are suspensions of nanometer-sized particles which significantly modify the properties of the base fluids. Nanofluids exhibit attractive properties, such as high thermal conductivity, tunable surface tension, viscosity, and rheology. Various attempts have been made to understand the mechanisms for these property modifications caused by adding nanoparticles; however, due to the lack of direct nanoscale evidence, these explanations are still controversial. This work calculated the surface tension, viscosity, and rheology of gold- water nanofluids using molecular dynamics simulations which provide a microscopic interpretation for the modified properties on the molecular level. The gold-water interaction potential parameters were changed to mimic various nanoparticle types. The results show that the nanoparticle wettability is responsible for the modified surface tension. Hydrophobic nanoparticles always tend to stay on the free surface so they behave like a surfactant to reduce the surface tension. Hydrophilic nanoparticles immersed into the bulk fluid impose strong attractive forces on the water molecules at the free surface which reduces the free surface thickness and increases the surface tension of the nanofluid. Solid-like absorbed water layers were observed around the nanoparticles which increase the equivalent nanoparticle radius and reduce the mobility of the nanoparticles within the base fluid which increases the nanofluid viscosity. The results show the water molecule solidification between two or many nanoparticles at high nanoparticle loadings, but the solidification effect is suppressed for shear rates greater than a critical shear rate; thus Newtonian nanofluids can present shear- thinning non-Newtonian behavior.

Return to Publications page