The present study reports a novel concept of a direct solar thermal collector that harnesses the localized surface plasmon of metallic nanoparticles suspended in water. At the plasmon resonance frequency, the absorption and scattering from the nanoparticle can be greatly enhanced via the coupling of the incident radiation with the collective motion of electrons in metal. However, the surface plasmon induces strong absorption with a sharp peak due to its resonant nature, which is not desirable for broad-band solar absorption. In order to achieve the broad-band absorption, we propose a direct solar thermal collector that has four types of gold-nanoshell particles blended in the aquatic solution. Numerical simulations based on the Monte Carlo algorithm and finite element analysis have shown that the use of blended plasmonic nanofluids can significantly enhance the solar collector efficiency with an extremely low particle concentration (e.g., approximately 70% for a 0.05% particle volume fraction). The low particle concentration ensures that nanoparticles do not significantly alter the flow characteristics of nanofluids inside the solar collector. The results obtained from this study will facilitate the development of highly efficient solar thermal collectors using plasmonic nanofluids.

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