Recent studies of single-phase convective heat transfer of nanofluids reveal that, unlike the promising hypohesis in the early works, there is no significant improvement in the overall thermal performance of nanofluids over that of the base fluids when both heat transfer and hydrodynamic characteristics are considered. Meanwhile, very few studies have been devoted to investigating two-phase heat transfer of nanofluids, and it remains inconclusive whether the same pessimistic outlook should be expected. In this work, an experimental study of forced convective flow boiling and two-phase flow was conducted for Al2O3-water nanofluids through a minichannel. General flow boiling heat transfer characteristics were measured, and the effects of nanofluids on the onset of nucleate boiling (ONB) were studied. Two-phase flow instabilities were also explored with an emphasis on the transition boundaries of onset of flow instabilities (OFI). It was found that the presence of nanoparticles delays ONB and suppresses OFI, and the extent is correlated to the nanoparticle volume concentration. These effects were attributed to the change of surface wettability and the thinning of thermal boundary layer in the nanofluid flow. Additionally, it was observed that the pressure-drop type flow instability prevails in nanofluid two-phase flow, however, the oscillation amplitudes of the pressure, temperature and mass flux measurements are reduced.

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