Heat exchangers are key components in many of the devices seen in our everyday life. They are employed in many applications such as land vehicles, power plants, marine gas turbines, oil refineries, air-conditioning, and domestic water heating. Their operating mechanism depends on providing a flow of thermal energy between two or more mediums of different temperatures. The thermo-economics considerations of such devices have set the need for developing this equipment further, which is very challenging when taking into account the complexity of the operational conditions and expansion limitation of the technology. For such reasons, this work provides a systematic review of the state-of-the-art heat exchanger technology and the progress towards using nanofluids for enhancing their thermal-hydraulic performance. Firstly, the general operational theory of heat exchangers is presented. Then, an in-depth focus on different types of heat exchangers, plate-frame and plate-fin heat exchangers, is presented. Moreover, an introduction to nanofluids developments, thermophysical properties, and their influence on the thermal-hydraulic performance of heat exchangers are also discussed. Thus, the primary purpose of this work is not only to describe the previously published literature, but also to emphasize the important role of nanofluids and how this category of advanced fluids can significantly increase the thermal efficiency of heat exchangers for possible future applications.
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