Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


1.3 PHYSICAL SCIENCES, Civil engineering, 2.7 ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING, Energy and fuels

Publication Details

Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells


Nanofluids offer the potential to address the low thermal conductivities found in conventional heat transfer fluids, through their unique electrical, optical and thermal properties, but their implementation remains restricted due to absorption and stability limitations. Here, we characterize and exploit the distinctive plasmonic properties exhibited by polyvinyl-alcohol stabilized silver nanostructures by tuning their absorption and thermal properties through controlling the nanoparticle size, morphology and particle-size distribution configuration at the synthesis stage. The photo-thermal efficiency of different water-based silver nanofluids under a standard AM1.5G weighted solar spectrum were explored, the influence of each of these components on the resulting fluids performance within a direct absorption solar thermal collection system being considered. Nanofluids, containing an extensive ensemble of particle size-distributions (5 nm–110 nm in diameter) in addition to anisotropic particle morphologies (e.g. prisms, hexagons and other non-spherical geometries), exhibited a significant enhancement in the absorption and photo-thermal energy transfer. Enhancements of 5%–32% in the photo-thermal conversion efficiency were achieved, the enhancement being dependent upon the presence of multiple particle size-distributions and the particle concentration. The enhancement is influenced by the interactions occurring between the individual particle size-distributions but also by the collective behaviour of the particles ensemble. The critical particle diameter, above which the photo-thermal characteristics of the nanofluid become dominated by the larger sized particles present, was identified as 150 nm. The increased performance of these nanofluids, which adopt a more complex particle-size configuration, suggests that they can represent suitable candidates for solar-thermal applications.



Technological University Dublin