Nanolubricants Research Project
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is currently conducting research into nanolubricants. This enabling technology has the potential for improving the efficiency of chillers that cool large buildings, in a cost-neutral manner.
This project seeks to develop a fundamental understanding of how nanolubricants, a lubricant with dispersed nano-size particles, can enhance refrigerant and lubricant pool boiling. A previous National Institute for Standards and Technology study has shown that copper oxide nanoparticles can provide up to 275% improvement in the boiling heat flux as compared to boiling without nanoparticles. Boiling heat transfer measurements will be conducted with nanoparticles of various sizes, shapes, and materials.
Research is being undertaken between the Department of Energy and the National Institute for Standards and Technology.
The goal of this project is to assess the potential for improving chiller evaporator boiling heat transfer by using nanolubricants.
Benefits and Impacts
Acoustically enhanced nanolubricants are expected to bring between 1% and 2% improvement in chiller efficiencies considering the demonstrated success of this technique with nanofluids. If the efficiency of all existing chillers were to be improved by 1%, 0.03 quads of energy savings could be realized yearly for a marginal investment.