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Laura Fourgeaud

Analysis of the liquid film dynamics in pulsating heat pipes

Published on 20 September 2016
Thesis presented September 20, 2016

We experimentally study the behavior of liquid films - so called Landau-Levich films - when they evaporate in their pure vapor atmosphere. The dynamics of this film is a key parameter that rules out the functioning of Pulsating Heat Pipes (PHPs). PHPs are high conductive thermal links. Their heat transfert capability is known to be extremely high. For this reason they are promising for numerous industrial applications. Their geometry is simple. It is a capillary tube bent in several branches that meander between a hot part (called evaporator) and a cold part (called condenser), and filled up with a pure two-phase fluid. When the temperature difference between evaporator and condenser exceeds a certain threshold, gas bubbles and liquid plugs begin to oscillate spontaneously back and forth inside the tube and PHP starts transferring the heat. Our experimental setup features the simplest, single branch PHP. A liquid/vapor interface oscillates in a tube. It deposits a liquid film at each passage. We focus first on the mechanism which makes possible self-sustained interface oscillations and defines its frequency. The obtained motion equation accounts for the viscous dissipation caused by oscillatory flow. In existing PHP modelling, a laminar flow is supposed. Yet, our approach shows that the assumption of weakly inertial flow is preferable and leads to a dissipation rate twice larger that the Poiseuille flow. The experimental setup allows the film visualization. An original combination of optical measurement techniques lets us measure the film length, thickness and 3D-profile at all times. The film evolution has been measured during its whole lifetime. The film is nearly flat (its slope is smaller than 0,1°). The film length is of several centimeters, and the average thickness is 50 microns. Thus, along the total length, its thickness decreases by half. Under heating conditions, the film gradually recedes. A dewetting ridge is formed, near the triple contact line. Such a behavior is typical under non-wetting conditions. At the nanometric scale the contact angle between the liquid and the solid wall is very low. However, we measure a large apparent contact angle (visible at the millimetric scale) which increases with the wall superheating. Once this angle increases, the dewetting ridge is formed and the film recedes. The large apparent contact angle is explained by evaporation in the microscopic vicinity of the contact line. The measured apparent contact angle value agrees quantitatively with theoretical results obtained by other researchers.

Meniscus oscillation, Capillarity, Pulsating heat pipe, Heat exchange, Hydrodynamics, Wetting

On-line thesis.