Fogg, D.W., and Goodson, K.E., 2009, “Bubble-Induced Water Hammer in Microchannel Flow Boiling,” ASME Journal of Heat Transfer, Vol. 131, 121006.
While microchannel flow boiling has received much research attention, past work has not considered the impact of acoustic waves generated by rapidly nucleating bubbles. The present work provides a theoretical framework for these pressure waves, which resembles classical “water hammer” theory and predicts a strong influence on bubble nucleation rates and effective convection coefficients. These pressure waves result directly from confinement in microchannel geometries, reflect from geometrical transitions, and superimpose to create large transients in the static liquid pressure. Feedback from the pressure waves inhibits bubble growth rates, reducing the effective heat transfer. Pressure depressions generated by the propagating pressure pulses can cause other bubbles to grow at lower than expected wall temperatures. The additional nucleation enhances heat transfer over short times but increased flow instability may inhibit heat transfer over longer periods. The limited quantitative measurements available in the literature indicate confined bubble growth rates in microchannels are significantly lower than those predicted by the classical Rayleigh–Plesset equation. The present model predicts confined bubble growth rates to within +/- 20%. A nondimensional number indicative of the relative magnitude of the water hammer pressure to bubble pressure is proposed to characterize the transitions from conventional to microchannel flow boiling.