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Issue 9, 2011
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A conceptual thermal actuation system driven by interface tension of nanofluids

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Abstract

In a system containing nanoporous materials and liquids, the well-known thermo-capillary effect can be amplified by the ultralarge specific surface area of the nanopores. With appropriate temperature change, the relative wetting–dewetting transition can cause the liquid to flow in or out of the nanopores, and part of the thermal energy is converted to significant mechanical output. A conceptual design of such a thermal actuation/energy conversion/storage system is investigated in this paper, whose working mechanism, i.e. the thermally dependent infiltration behaviors of liquids into nanopores, is analyzed using molecular dynamics simulations. The fundamental molecular characteristics, including the density profile, contact angle, and surface tension of the confined liquid molecules, are examined in considerable detail. The influences of pore size, solid phase and liquid species are elucidated, which couple with the thermal effect. The energy density, power density, and efficiency of the thermal actuation system are evaluated. An infiltration experiment on a zeolite/water system is performed to qualitatively validate these findings.

Graphical abstract: A conceptual thermal actuation system driven by interface tension of nanofluids

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Publication details

The article was received on 03 Apr 2011, accepted on 17 Jun 2011 and first published on 27 Jul 2011


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C1EE01405F
Citation: Energy Environ. Sci., 2011,4, 3632-3639

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    A conceptual thermal actuation system driven by interface tension of nanofluids

    B. Xu, Y. Qiao, T. Park, M. Tak, Q. Zhou and X. Chen, Energy Environ. Sci., 2011, 4, 3632
    DOI: 10.1039/C1EE01405F

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