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Numerical Simulations of Bubble Dynamics and Heat Transfer in Pool Boiling--Including the Effects of Conjugate Conduction, Level of Gravity, and Noncondensable Gas Dissolved in the Liquid


Due to the complex nature of the subprocesses involved in nucleate boiling, it has not been possible to develop comprehensive models or correlations despite decades of accumulated data and analysis. Complications such as the presence of dissolved gas in the liquid further confound attempts at modeling nucleate boiling. Moreover, existing empirical correlations may not be suitable for new applications, especially with regards to varying gravity level. More recently, numerical simulations of the boiling process have proven to be capable of reliably predicting bubble dynamics and associated heat transfer by showing excellent agreement with experimental data.

However, most simulations decouple the solid substrate by assuming constant wall temperature. In the present study complete numerical simulations of the boiling process are performed--including conjugate transient conduction in the solid substrate and the effects of dissolved gas in the liquid at different levels of gravity. Finite difference schemes are used to discretize the governing equations in the liquid, vapor, and solid phases. The interface between liquid and vapor phases is tracked by a level set method. An iterative procedure is used at the interface between the solid and fluid phases.

Near the three-phase contact line, temperatures in the solid are observed to fluctuate significantly over short periods. The results show good agreement with the data available in the literature. The results also show that waiting and growth periods can be related directly to wall superheat. The functional relationship between waiting period and wall superheat is found to agree well with empirical correlations reported in the literature. For the case of a single bubble in subcooled nucleate boiling, the presence of dissolved gas in the liquid is found to cause noncondensables to accumulate at the top of the bubble where most condensation occurs. This results in reduced local saturation temperature and condensation rates. The numerical predictions show reasonable agreement with the results from experiments performed at microgravity. For nucleate boiling at microgravity the simulations predict a drastic change in vapor removal pattern when compared to Earth normal gravity. The predictions match well with experimental results. However, simulated heat transfer rates were significantly under-predicted.

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