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Thermofluidic Impacts of Geometrical Confinement on Pool Boiling: Enabling Extremely Compact Two-phase Thermal Management Technologies through Mechanistic-based Understandings and Predictions

posted on 19.04.2022, 19:45 by Albraa A AlsaatiAlbraa A Alsaati

 With new technologies taking advantages of the rapid miniaturization of devices to microscale across emerging industries, there is an unprecedented increase in the heat fluxes generated. The relatively low phase-change thermal resistance associated with boiling is beneficial for dissipating high heat flux densities in compact spaces. However, for boiling heat transfer, a high degree of geometrical confinement significantly alters two-phase interface dynamics which affects the flow pattern, wetting dynamics, and moreover, the heat transfer rate of the boiling processes. Hence, it is crucial to have a deeper understanding of the mechanistic effects of confinement on two-phase heat dissipation and carefully examine the applicability of boiling correlations developed for unconfined pool boiling to predict and optimize design of extremely compact two-phase thermal management solutions. This dissertation develops and demonstrate a fundamental understanding of the impact of confinement on pool boiling. To elucidate the mechanisms that impact confined boiling, this study experimentally evaluates boiling characteristics through the quantification of boiling curves and high-speed visualization across a range of gap spacing smaller than the capillary length of the working fluid. 

 This work reveals the existence of two distinct boiling regime uniquely observed in boiling in confined configurations (namely, intermittent boiling and partial dryout). In contrast to pool boiling where the maximum heat transfer coefficient occurs below the critical heat flux limit, the intermittent boiling regime demonstrates the highest heat transfer coefficient in confined boiling. Then, this study provides a mechanistic explanation for the enhanced heat transfer rate due to geometrical confinement. Mainly, small residual pockets of vapor, termed ‘stem bubbles’ herein, remain on the boiling surface through a pinch-off process. These stems bubbles act as seeds for vapor growth in the next phase of the boiling process without the need for active nucleation sites. Furthermore, this dissertation develops a more accurate, mechanistic-based model for the phenomena that occur at CHF in confined configurations. The newly developed mechanistic understanding and model provides guidance on new directions for designing extremely compact two-phase thermal solutions.


Cooperative Industry/Government Semiconductor Research

Directorate for Engineering

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Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy


Mechanical Engineering

Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Amy M. Marconnet

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

David M. Warsinger

Additional Committee Member 2

Justin A. Weibel

Additional Committee Member 3

Alina A. Alexeenko