NSE - Nuclear Science & Engineering at MIT


Use of nanofluids for LWR safety and economics enhancement

Colloidal dispersions of nanoparticles are known as ‘nanofluids’. Such engineered fluids offer the potential for enhancing heat transfer, particularly boiling heat transfer, while avoiding the drawbacks (i.e., erosion, settling, clogging) that hindered the use of particle-laden fluids in the past. We have been studying the basic heat transfer characteristics of nanofluids, i.e., thermophysical properties, single-phase convective heat transfer, boiling heat transfer (including pool and flow CHF), and quenching heat transfer. Furthermore, we have been evaluating the benefits of nanofluids for and applicability to nuclear power systems, i.e., primary coolant in PWRs, safety systems (ECCS) for both PWRs and BWRs, severe accident mitigation strategies (In-Vessel Retention).


  1. J. Buongiorno, L.W. Hu, “Nanofluid Heat Transfer Enhancement for Nuclear Reactor Applications”, J. Energy Power Engineering, Volume 4, No.6 (Serial No.31), June 2010.
  2. J. Buongiorno, L. W. Hu, S. J. Kim, R. Hannink, B. Truong, E. Forrest, “Nanofluids for Enhanced Economics and Safety of Nuclear Reactors: an Evaluation of the Potential Features, Issues and Research Gaps”, Nuclear Technology, Vol. 162, 80–91, 2008.
  3. J. Buongiorno, L. W. Hu, G. Apostolakis, R. Hannink, T. Lucas, A. Chupin, “A Feasibility Assessment of the Use of Nanofluids to Enhance the In-Vessel Retention Capability in Light-Water Reactors”, Nuclear Engineering and Design, 239, 941–948, 2009.
  4. S. J. Kim, T. McKrell, J. Buongiorno, L. W. Hu, “Experimental Study of Flow Critical Heat Flux in Alumina-Water, Zinc-oxide-Water and Diamond-Water Nanofluids”, ASME J. Heat Transfer, Vol. 131, 043204, 2009.
  5. H. Kim, T. McKrell, G. Dewitt, J. Buongiorno, L. W. Hu, “On the Quenching of Steel and Zircaloy Spheres in Water-Based Nanofluids with Alumina, Silica and Diamond Nanoparticles”, Int J. Multiphase Flow, 35, 427–438, 2009.

Department of Nuclear Science & Engineering

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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Cambridge, MA 02139