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Surface Modification Approach to TiO2 Nanofluids with High Particle Concentration, Low Viscosity, and Electrochemical Activity

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Energy Systems Division and Electron Microscopy Center - Center for Nanoscale Materials, Argonne National Laboratory, Lemont, Illinois 60439, United States
Cite this: ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2015, 7, 37, 20538–20547
Publication Date (Web):August 31, 2015
Copyright © 2015 American Chemical Society

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    This study presents a new approach to the formulation of functional nanofluids with high solid loading and low viscosity while retaining the surface activity of nanoparticles, in particular, their electrochemical response. The proposed methodology can be applied to a variety of functional nanomaterials and enables exploration of nanofluids as a medium for industrial applications beyond heat transfer fluids, taking advantage of both liquid behavior and functionality of dispersed nanoparticles. The highest particle concentration achievable with pristine 25 nm titania (TiO2) nanoparticles in aqueous electrolytes (pH 11) is 20 wt %, which is limited by particle aggregation and high viscosity. We have developed a scalable one-step surface modification procedure for functionalizing those TiO2 nanoparticles with a monolayer coverage of propyl sulfonate groups, which provides steric and charge-based separation of particles in suspension. Stable nanofluids with TiO2 loadings up to 50 wt % and low viscosity are successfully prepared from surface-modified TiO2 nanoparticles in the same electrolytes. Viscosity and thermal conductivity of the resulting nanofluids are evaluated and compared to nanofluids prepared from pristine nanoparticles. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that the surface-modified titania nanoparticles retain more than 78% of their electrochemical response as compared to that of the pristine material. Potential applications of the proposed nanofluids include, but are not limited to, electrochemical energy storage and catalysis, including photo- and electrocatalysis.

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    The Supporting Information is available free of charge on the ACS Publications website at DOI: 10.1021/acsami.5b05864.

    • Conversion of weight (wt %) to volume (vol %) fraction for titania nanoparticles, XRD and SEM analysis of titania nanoparticles of various sizes, evaluation of viscosity for nanofluids with different particle sizes of pristine TiO2 anatase nanoparticles, estimation for surface coverage of titania nanoparticles with grafting agent, and shear rate dependence of viscosity (PDF)

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