Enhanced condensation heat transfer using porous silica inverse opal coatings on copper tubes

Solomon Adera*, Lauren Naworski, Alana Davitt, Nikolaj K Mandsberg, Anna V. Shneidman, Jack Alvarenga, Joanna Aizenberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Phase-change condensation is commonplace in nature and industry. Since the 1930s, it is well understood that vapor condenses in filmwise mode on clean metallic surfaces whereas it condenses by forming discrete droplets on surfaces coated with a promoter material. In both filmwise and dropwise modes, the condensate is removed when gravity overcomes pinning forces. In this work, we show rapid condensate transport through cracks that formed due to material shrinkage when a copper tube is coated with silica inverse opal structures. Importantly, the high hydraulic conductivity of the cracks promote axial condensate transport that is beneficial for condensation heat transfer. In our experiments, the cracks improved the heat transfer coefficient from ≈ 12 kW/m2 K for laminar filmwise condensation on smooth clean copper tubes to ≈ 80 kW/m2 K for inverse opal coated copper tubes; nearly a sevenfold increase from filmwise condensation and identical enhancement with state-of-the-art dropwise condensation. Furthermore, our results show that impregnating the porous structure with oil further improves the heat transfer coefficient by an additional 30% to ≈ 103 kW/m2 K. Importantly, compared to the fast-degrading dropwise condensation, the inverse opal coated copper tubes maintained high heat transfer rates when the experiments were repeated > 20 times; each experiment lasting 3-4 h. In addition to the new coating approach, the insights gained from this work present a strategy to minimize oil depletion during condensation from lubricated surfaces.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10675
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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