Nanofluid is a solid-liquid mixture consisting of solid nanoparticles or nanofibers with sizes typically of 1–100 nm suspended in liquid. Thermal conductivity and heat transfer performance of nanofluids is superior to those of the original pure carrier fluids because the suspended nanoparticles remarkably improve energy exchange capability of the suspensions. In the present paper, the investigations efforts cover microscopic and mesoscaled approachs for the heat transfer enhancement mechanism of the nanofluid, flow and heat transfer mechanism and the relevant control methods of the magnetic fluid by suspending magnetic nanoparticles in base fluids, and some applications of nanofluid on a variety of thermal systems in order to understand energy transfer mechanism of nanofluids and guide future applications of nanofluids to thermal engineering.

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