Quenching experiments were performed with hot stainless steel spheres in a pool of water-based nanofluids in the presence of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) of various sizes. In order to explore the size effect, a test matrix was developed by choosing multi-walled CNTs with lengths from 1 μm to 5 μm and outer diameters from 30 nm to 60 nm. The concentration was fixed at 0.5% by mass for all types of CNTs. The initial temperature was 400 °C and the transient temperature variations at the center of the sphere were recorded as quenching curves. By establishing a lumped capacitance model, the transient surface heat flux variations were obtained as boiling curves. The original and boiled surfaces were both subjected to a series of characterizations to determine the changes in morphology, roughness, and wettability to identify the effects of CNT size on the surface properties of the formed deposition layers as well as to elucidate the mechanisms for regulation of the boiling and quenching behaviors. The results suggested that the critical heat flux (CHF) and the Leidenfrost point (LFP) are enhanced to various degrees due to the discrepancy in the size of the CNTs in nanofluids. It was shown that the CNTs deposited on the surfaces create various morphologies depending on their size. The CNTs with a length of 5 μm and a diameter of 60 nm exhibited the most significant effect on the boiling behaviors. In comparison to CNTs with a shorter length of 1 μm, the 5 μm long CNTs were much easier to form porous layers. The results of the contact angle and roughness tests showed that the porous layers tend to affect the surface roughness instead of surface wettability. The increases of the nucleation site density and surface roughness due to the presence of porous layers were identified as the primary cause for the modified boiling behaviors during quenching.

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