Impact of Wall Hydrophobicity on Condensation Flow and Heat Transfer in Silicon Microchannels

Fang, C., Steinbrenner, J.E., Wang, F.M., and Goodson, K.E., 2010, "Impact of Wall Hydrophobicity on Condensation Flow and Heat Transfer in Silicon Microchannels," Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering, Vol. 20, 045018.

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While microchannel condensation has been the subject of several recent studies, the critical impact of wall hydrophobicity on the microchannel condensation flow has received very little attention. The paper experimentally studies steam condensation in a silicon microchannel 286 μm in hydraulic diameter with three different wall hydrophobicities. It is found that the channel surface wettability has a significant impact on the flow pattern, pressure drop and heat transfer characteristic. Spatial flow pattern transition is observed in both hydrophobic and hydrophilic channels. In the hydrophobic channel, the transition from dropwise/slugwise flow to plug flow is induced by the slug instability. In the hydrophilic channel, the flow transition is characterized by the periodic bubble detachment, a process in which pressure evolution is found important. Local temperature measurement is conducted and heat flux distribution in the microchannel is reconstructed. For the same inlet vapor flux and temperature, the hydrophobic microchannel yields higher heat transfer rate and pressure drop compared to the hydrophilic channel. The difference is attributed to the distinction in flow pattern and heat transfer mechanism dictated by the channel hydrophobicity. This study highlights the importance of the channel hydrophobicity control for the optimization of the microchannel condenser.

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