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A theoretical analysis of microchannel flow boiling enhancement via cross-sectional expansion

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Microchannel heat sinks can possess heat transfer characteristics unavailable in conventional heat exchangers; such sinks offer compact solutions to otherwise intractable thermal management problems, notably in small-scale electronics cooling. Flow

Microchannel heat sinks can possess heat transfer characteristics unavailable in conventional heat exchangers; such sinks offer compact solutions to otherwise intractable thermal management problems, notably in small-scale electronics cooling. Flow boiling in microchannels allows a very high heat transfer rate, but is bounded by the critical heat flux (CHF). This thesis presents a theoretical-numerical study of a method to improve the heat rejection capability of a microchannel heat sink via expansion of the channel cross-section along the flow direction. The thermodynamic quality of the refrigerant increases during flow boiling, decreasing the density of the bulk coolant as it flows. This may effect pressure fluctuations in the channels, leading to nonuniform heat transfer and local dryout in regions exceeding CHF. This undesirable phenomenon is counteracted by permitting the cross-section of the microchannel to increase along the direction of flow, allowing more volume for the vapor. Governing equations are derived from a control-volume analysis of a single heated rectangular microchannel; the cross-section is allowed to expand in width and height. The resulting differential equations are solved numerically for a variety of channel expansion profiles and numbers of channels. The refrigerant is R-134a and channel parameters are based on a physical test bed in a related experiment. Significant improvement in CHF is possible with moderate area expansion. Minimal additional manufacturing costs could yield major gains in the utility of microchannel heat sinks. An optimum expansion rate occurred in certain cases, and alterations in the channel width are, in general, more effective at improving CHF than alterations in the channel height. Modest expansion in height enables small width expansions to be very effective.

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  • 2011

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Microchannel flow boiling enhancement via cross-sectional expansion

Description

The heat transfer enhancements available from expanding the cross-section of a boiling microchannel are explored analytically and experimentally. Evaluation of the literature on critical heat flux in flow boiling and

The heat transfer enhancements available from expanding the cross-section of a boiling microchannel are explored analytically and experimentally. Evaluation of the literature on critical heat flux in flow boiling and associated pressure drop behavior is presented with predictive critical heat flux (CHF) and pressure drop correlations. An optimum channel configuration allowing maximum CHF while reducing pressure drop is sought. A perturbation of the channel diameter is employed to examine CHF and pressure drop relationships from the literature with the aim of identifying those adequately general and suitable for use in a scenario with an expanding channel. Several CHF criteria are identified which predict an optimizable channel expansion, though many do not. Pressure drop relationships admit improvement with expansion, and no optimum presents itself. The relevant physical phenomena surrounding flow boiling pressure drop are considered, and a balance of dimensionless numbers is presented that may be of qualitative use. The design, fabrication, inspection, and experimental evaluation of four copper microchannel arrays of different channel expansion rates with R-134a refrigerant is presented. Optimum rates of expansion which maximize the critical heat flux are considered at multiple flow rates, and experimental results are presented demonstrating optima. The effect of expansion on the boiling number is considered, and experiments demonstrate that expansion produces a notable increase in the boiling number in the region explored, though no optima are observed. Significant decrease in the pressure drop across the evaporator is observed with the expanding channels, and no optima appear. Discussion of the significance of this finding is presented, along with possible avenues for future work.

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  • 2013