Abstract

A thermal diode, a device to manipulate the heat flow in different directions, is useful in various thermal systems, such as solar thermal storage systems. It is noted that the performance of phase change thermal diodes shows the highest thermal rectification performances in the literature. The performances of the phase change thermal diode can be further improved by utilizing a working fluid with enhanced thermal properties. Since hybrid nanofluids are proven to have better thermal properties than the base fluid (i.e. water), in this study, a thermal diode using Al2O3-Cu/water hybrid nanofluid is fabricated and tested to investigate the feasibility of using hybrid nanofluid to enhance the performance of the thermal diode. The heat transfer and thermal rectification performances of the thermal diode using Al2O3-Cu/water hybrid nanofluid are compared experimentally, to a thermal diode using water. The effect of temperature on the heat transfer and thermal rectification performances of the thermal diode is also examined. The results indicate that the effective thermal conductivity in the forward direction and the diodicity of the thermal diode using Al2O3-Cu/water hybrid nanofluid are improved by 42.4% and 30.8%, respectively, compared to that of the thermal diode using water. The findings not only reveal a new direction for future research in enhancement of the thermal rectification performance of the phase change thermal diode but also provide an alternative research path for improving the performance of existing solar thermal storage systems.

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