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Boiling and Condensation in Microchannels

[+] Author Affiliations
Ping Cheng, Guodong Wang, Xiaojun Quan

Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai, China

Paper No. MNHT2008-52387, pp. 1407-1415; 9 pages
  • ASME 2008 First International Conference on Micro/Nanoscale Heat Transfer
  • ASME 2008 First International Conference on Micro/Nanoscale Heat Transfer, Parts A and B
  • Tainan, Taiwan, June 6–9, 2008
  • Conference Sponsors: Nanotechnology Institute
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4292-4 | eISBN: 0-7918-3813-7
  • Copyright © 2008 by ASME


The characteristics of boiling of water and condensation of steam in a microchannel under heating or cooling conditions are discussed in this paper. Stable and unstable boiling modes occur in a microchannel, depending on the nucleated bubble size in the microchannel. Stable boiling mode with constant temperature variations exists when the size of the nucleated bubble is less than that of the microchannel diameter, while unstable boiling mode exists when the size of the bubble is greater than the microchannel diameter. The latter is owing to the fact that when a bubble grows to the size of the microchannel, it will expand in both upstream and downstream directions. Subsequently, the reversed flow of vapor bubble is swept downstream by the incoming subcooled liquid, leading to large cyclic fluctuations of temperature and pressure. The amplitude and frequency of these fluctuations depend greatly on the inlet/outlet configurations and the exit vapor quality. By fabricating an inlet restriction on each microchannel, the reversed flow of vapor can be suppressed, resulting in a stable flow boiling mode. Boiling heat transfer coefficient and pressure drop in a microchannel under stable flow boiling conditions are obtained. These data at high vapor qualities are found to be substantially different from the correlations obtained for flow boiling in macrochannels. For condensation in a microchannel, mist flow, annular flow, injection flow, slug/bubbly flow exist depending on mass flux, condensation heat flux, and the location in the microchannel. The occurrence of the injection flow is owing to the instability of the liquid/vapor interface because the surface tension effect is predominant in microchannels. The location, at which the injection flow occurs, depends on the mass flux and the cooling rate of steam. Increase in steam mass flux, decrease in cooling rate and the microchannel diameter tend to enhance instability of the condensate film on the wall, resulting in occurrence of the injection flow further toward the outlet with an increase in occurrence frequency. At low mass fluxes, the pressure drop obtained for condensation in microchannels is substantially different from the correlation equations for macrochannels because of different flow patterns.

Copyright © 2008 by ASME



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