The aim of this study is to investigate the enhancement of thermal properties of various high temperature nanofluids for solar thermal energy storage application. In concentrating solar power (CSP) systems, the thermo-physical properties of the heat transfer fluids (HTF) and the thermal energy storage (TES) materials are key to enhancing the overall system efficiency. Molten salts, such as alkali nitrates, alkali carbonates, or eutectics are considered as alternatives to conventional HTF to extend the capabilities of CSP. However, there is limited usage of molten salt eutectics as the HTF material, since the heat capacity of the molten salts are lower than that of conventional HTF. Nanofluid is a mixture of a solvent and nanoparticles. Well dispersed nanoparticles can be used to enhance thermo-physical properties of HTF. In this study, silica (SiO2) and alumina (Al2O3) nanoparticles as well as carbon nanotubes (CNT) were dispersed into a molten salt and a commercially available HTF. The specific heat capacity of the nanofluids were measured and applicability of such nanofluid materials for solar thermal storage applications were explored. Measurements performed using the carbonate eutectics and commercial HTF that are doped with inorganic and organic nano-particles show specific heat capacity enhancements exceeding 5–20% at concentrations of 0.05% to 2.0% by weight. Dimensional analyses and computer simulations were performed to predict the enhancement of thermal properties of the nanofluids. The computational studies were performed using Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations.

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