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The pool boiling characteristics of dilute dispersions of alumina, zirconia and silica nanoparticles in water were studied. These dispersions are known as nanofluids. Consistently with other nanofluid studies, it was found that a significant enhancement in Critical Heat Flux (CHF) can be achieved at modest nanoparticle concentrations (<0.1% by volume). Buildup of a porous layer of nanoparticles on the heater surface occurred during nucleate boiling. This layer significantly improves the surface wettability, as shown by a reduction of the static contact angle on the nanofluid-boiled surfaces compared with the pure-water-boiled surfaces. CHF theories support the nexus between CHF enhancement and surface wettability changes. This represents a first important step towards identification of a plausible mechanism for boiling CHF enhancement in nanofluids.
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