Due to its high heat transfer coefficient and low working fluid inventory, the horizontal-tube, falling-film heat exchanger finds wide application as an absorber, condenser and evaporator. Recent advances in nanotechnology suggest the use of nanofluids in heat exchangers. Some researchers find an enhanced heat transfer with nanofluids, while others report no enhancement or a deleterious effect on heat transfer when applying nanoparticles in the working fluids. In the current work, the thermal conductivity and kinematic viscosity of aqueous alumina nanofluids are measured at concentrations of 0 vol%, 0.05 vol%, 0.5 vol%, 1 vol% (with and without sodium dodecylbenzene sulfonate, SDBS), and 2 vol%. For these nanofluids, the impact of nanoparticles on thermal conductivity and viscosity is small (less than 5% for thermal conductivity and 13% for viscosity). The heat transfer characteristics of these nanofluids are measured and compared to predictions from the literature for conventional fluids. The falling-film heat transfer for these nanofluids is in good agreement with predictions, and no unusual heat transfer enhancement is observed in the present studies. Although the findings with water-alumina nanofluids are not encouraging with respect to heat transfer, the results extend nanofluid data to a new type of flow and may help improve our understanding of nanofluid behavior. Moreover, this work provides a basis for further work on falling-film nanofluids.

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