Nanofluid Extinction Coefficients for Photothermal Energy Conversion
Suspensions of nanoparticles in liquids (i.e. nanofluids) have been shown to dramatically affect thermal and optical properties of the base liquid at low particle loadings [1–3]. Recent studies by the co-authors have indicated that selected nanofluids are promising as solar energy harvesters [4,5]. In order to determine the effectiveness of nanofluids in solar applications, their ability to convert light energy to thermal energy must be known. That is, the extinction coefficient of real nanofluids must be established. Although it is relatively straight-forward to model these properties from knowledge of bulk properties, with the help of some simplifying assumptions, real spectroscopy tests do not always match these calculations. This study compares model predictions of extinction coefficients to spectroscopic measurements. Unfortunately, the models and the optical testing data do not show very good agreement. Some possible reasons for this are discussed. Also, some simple experiments are presented to investigate the extent of scattering in nanoparticle suspensions. As alluded to above, all of these tests are conducted on nanofluid compositions which are considered to be suitable for solar thermal collectors.