Comprehensive modeling of heat and mass transport in a micropillar evaporator

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2022-4-05
Yuncu, Göksel
Thin-film evaporation and the replenishing capillary liquid flow have paramount importance for various technological applications spanning from desalination to electronics cooling. With the developments enabling faster and cheaper yet more precise fabrication, evaporators with micropillar arrays have attracted substantial attention to sustain efficient evaporation fed by passive liquid transport. Although considerable effort has been devoted to designing optimized wicks, the full picture is still blurry due to complexities in modeling the liquid-vapor interface and the flow around the micropillars. Fundamentally, the heat transfer from a micropillar wick evaporator is a problem governed by various interfacial phenomena such as the capillarity-induced liquid flow, thin-film evaporation intensifying near the contact lines, and thermocapillarity-induced Marangoni flow. In this work, we develop a comprehensive model for the evaporation from a micropillar wick evaporator by coupling the liquid flow with the energy transfer in both liquid and solid domains at both cell- and device-levels. The model is successfully validated with previous experiments. When Marangoni number is sufficiently high, the model identifies a sharp reduction in the evaporator temperature attributed to the thermocapillary convection creating circulations beneath the liquid-vapor interface. This temperature drop cannot be identified when thermocapillarity is switched off in the model and the prediction of the model substantially deviates from the experimental measurement. Therefore, the current study reveals a hitherto unexplored role of Marangoni flow in the evaporation of water from micropillar wick evaporators. The proposal modeling framework can be a guide to engineers for the optimization of micro-post evaporators by accounting for all the relevant interfacial phenomena.

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Citation Formats
G. Yuncu, “Comprehensive modeling of heat and mass transport in a micropillar evaporator,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2022.