Environmental impacts of nanofluids: A review

Khaled Elsaid*, A. G. Olabi, Tabbi Wilberforce, Mohammad Ali Abdelkareem, Enas Taha Sayed

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Nanofluids (NFs) have been expanding their applications in many areas as high-performance heat transfer fluid (HTF) for heating and cooling purposes. This is mainly due to the improved thermophysical properties relative to the base fluid (BF). The addition of nanoparticles (NPs) to BF, to obtain NFs, increases the thermal conductivity, hence better heat transfer properties and thermal performance. The properties of NFs can be considered somehow intermediate between those of the BF and the added solid NPs. The improved heat transfer using NFs results in increased energy conversion efficiency, which results in reduced energy consumption for heating or cooling applications. BF and their environmental impacts (EIs) have been widely discussed within the scope of their applications as a HTF, with most of the attention given to the improved energy efficiency. The IEs of NPs and their toxicity and other characteristics have been extensively studied due to the widespread applications on newly engineered NPs. However, with the evolution of expanding the applications of NFs, the different EIs were not well addressed. The discussion should consider both the base fluid and NPs added in combination as the NF constitutes. The current work presents a brief discussion on the EIs of NFs. The discussion presented in this work considers the NPs as the primary contributor to the EIs of different NFs. It was found that the EIs of NFs depend significantly on the type of NP used, followed by the BF, and finally, the loading of NPs in BF. The use of non-toxic and naturally occurring NPs at lower NPs loading in water as NF promises a much lower EIs in terms of toxicity energy requirements for production, and other EIs, while still maintaining high thermal performance. The production methods of both NPs, i.e., synthesis route, and NF, i.e., one-step or two-step, were found to have a significant effect on the associated EIs of the produced NF. The simpler NP synthesis route and NF production will result in much lower chemicals and energy requirements, which in turn reduce the EIs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number144202
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date25 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021


  • Environmental impacts
  • Nanofluids
  • Nanoparticles
  • Toxicity


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