The strategy of adding solid particles to fluids for improving thermal conductivity has been pursued for more than one century. Here, a novel concept of using liquid nanodroplets for enhancing thermal performance has been developed and demonstrated in polyalphaolefin (PAO) nanoemulsion fluids. The PAO nanoemulsion fluids are spontaneously generated by self-assembly, and are thermodynamically stable. Their thermophysical properties, including thermal conductivity and viscosity, and impact on convective heat transfer are investigated experimentally. The thermal conductivity enhancement in these fluids is found to be moderate, but increases rapidly with increasing temperature in the measured temperature range from 35 °C to 75 °C. A very remarkable increase in convective heat transfer coefficient occurs in the nanoemulsion fluids due to the explosive vaporization at the superheat limit (i.e., spinodal states). The fluid heat transfer could be augmented through the heat of vaporization (which intuitively raises the base fluid specific heat capacity) and the fluid mixing induced by the sound waves. The development of such phase-changeable nanoemulsion fluids would open a new direction for thermal fluids studies.

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