Driven by higher energy efficiency targets and industrial needs of process intensification and miniaturization, nanofluids have been proposed in energy conversion, power generation, chemical, electronic cooling, biological, and environmental systems. In space conditioning and in cooling systems for high power density electronics, vapor compression cycles provide cooling. The working fluid is a refrigerant and oil mixture. A small amount of lubricating oil is needed to lubricate and to seal the sliding parts of the compressors. In heat exchangers the oil in excess penalizes the heat transfer and increases the flow losses: both effects are highly undesired but yet unavoidable.
This paper studies the heat transfer characteristics of nanorefrigerants, a new class of nanofluids defined as refrigerant and lubricant mixtures in which nano-size particles are dispersed in the high-viscosity liquid phase. The heat transfer coefficient is strongly governed by the viscous film excess layer that resides at the wall surface. In the state-of-the-art knowledge, while nanoparticles in the refrigerant and lubricant mixtures were recently experimentally studied and yielded convective in-tube flow boiling heat transfer enhancements by as much as 101%, the interactions of nanoparticles with the mixture still pose several open questions. The model developed in this work suggested that the nanoparticles in this excess layer generate a micro-convective mass flux transverse to the flow direction that augments the thermal energy transport within the oil film in addition to the macroscopic heat conduction and fluid convection effects. The nanoparticles motion in the shearing-induced and non-uniform shear rate field is added to the motion of the nanoparticles due to their own Brownian diffusion. The augmentation of the liquid phase thermal conductivity was predicted by the developed model but alone it did not fully explain the intensification on the two-phase flow boiling heat transfer coefficient reported in previous work in the literature. Thus, additional nano- and micro-scale heat transfer intensification mechanisms were proposed.