This work develops an experimental technique capable of determining thermal conductivity of liquids with application to nanofluids. A periodic current passing through a thin stainless steel strip generates a periodic Joule heating source and an infrared detector measures the temperature response at the front surface of the stainless steel strip. An open chamber is machined out of a delrin plate with the stainless steel strip acting as the sealing cover. This resulting closed chamber contains the test liquid. The phase and magnitude of the temperature response were measured using a lock-in amplifier at various frequencies from 22 to 502 Hz. A one-dimensional, two-layered transient heat conduction model was developed to predict the temperature response on the front surface of the stainless steel strip. This temperature response, including phase and magnitude, is a function of the thermal properties of the liquid. The phase information shows high sensitivity to thermal properties of the liquid layer and is employed to match experimental data to find thermal conductivities. The measured thermal conductivities of water and ethylene glycol agree well with data from the literature and support the validity of this measurement technique. An aqueous fluid consisting of gold nanoparticles was tested. Anomalous thermal conductivity enhancement was observed. Our measurement results also show a divergence of thermal transport behavior between nanofluids and pure liquids. This suggests the need to carefully examine the role of measurement techniques in the study of nanofluid heat transfer phenomena.

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