Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering–Engineering Mechanics (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


Jeffrey S Allen


Liquid films, evaporating or non-evaporating, are ubiquitous in nature and technology. The dynamics of evaporating liquid films is a study applicable in several industries such as water recovery, heat exchangers, crystal growth, drug design etc. The theory describing the dynamics of liquid films crosses several fields such as engineering, mathematics, material science, biophysics and volcanology to name a few.

Interfacial instabilities typically manifest by the undulation of an interface from a presumed flat state or by the onset of a secondary flow state from a primary quiescent state or both. To study the instabilities affecting liquid films, an evaporating/non-evaporating Newtonian liquid film is subject to a perturbation. Numerical analysis is conducted on configurations of such liquid films being heated on solid surfaces in order to examine the various stabilizing and destabilizing mechanisms that can cause the formation of different convective structures. These convective structures have implications towards heat transfer that occurs via this process. Certain aspects of this research topic have not received attention, as will be obvious from the literature review.

Static, horizontal liquid films on solid surfaces are examined for their resistance to long wave type instabilities via linear stability analysis, method of normal modes and finite difference methods. The spatiotemporal evolution equation, available in literature, describing the time evolution of a liquid film heated on a solid surface, is utilized to analyze various stabilizing/destabilizing mechanisms affecting evaporating and non-evaporating liquid films. The impact of these mechanisms on the film stability and structure for both buoyant and non-buoyant films will be examined by the variation of mechanical and thermal boundary conditions.

Films evaporating in zero gravity are studied using the evolution equation. It is found that films that are stable to long wave type instabilities in terrestrial gravity are prone to destabilization via long wave instabilities in zero gravity.