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


Abhijit Mukherjee


The dissipation of high heat flux from integrated circuit chips and the maintenance of acceptable junction temperatures in high powered electronics require advanced cooling technologies. One such technology is two-phase cooling in microchannels under confined flow boiling conditions. In macroscale flow boiling bubbles will nucleate on the channel walls, grow, and depart from the surface. In microscale flow boiling bubbles can fill the channel diameter before the liquid drag force has a chance to sweep them off the channel wall. As a confined bubble elongates in a microchannel, it traps thin liquid films between the heated wall and the vapor core that are subject to large temperature gradients. The thin films evaporate rapidly, sometimes faster than the incoming mass flux can replenish bulk fluid in the microchannel. When the local vapor pressure spike exceeds the inlet pressure, it forces the upstream interface to travel back into the inlet plenum and create flow boiling instabilities. Flow boiling instabilities reduce the temperature at which critical heat flux occurs and create channel dryout. Dryout causes high surface temperatures that can destroy the electronic circuits that use two-phase micro heat exchangers for cooling.

Flow boiling instability is characterized by periodic oscillation of flow regimes which induce oscillations in fluid temperature, wall temperatures, pressure drop, and mass flux. When nanofluids are used in flow boiling, the nanoparticles become deposited on the heated surface and change its thermal conductivity, roughness, capillarity, wettability, and nucleation site density. It also affects heat transfer by changing bubble departure diameter, bubble departure frequency, and the evaporation of the micro and macrolayer beneath the growing bubbles.

Flow boiling was investigated in this study using degassed, deionized water, and 0.001 vol% aluminum oxide nanofluids in a single rectangular brass microchannel with a hydraulic diameter of 229 µm for one inlet fluid temperature of 63°C and two constant flow rates of 0.41 ml/min and 0.82 ml/min. The power input was adjusted for two average surface temperatures of 103°C and 119°C at each flow rate. High speed images were taken periodically for water and nanofluid flow boiling after durations of 25, 75, and 125 minutes from the start of flow. The change in regime timing revealed the effect of nanoparticle suspension and deposition on the Onset of Nucelate Boiling (ONB) and the Onset of Bubble Elongation (OBE). Cycle duration and bubble frequencies are reported for different nanofluid flow boiling durations. The addition of nanoparticles was found to stabilize bubble nucleation and growth and limit the recession rate of the upstream and downstream interfaces, mitigating the spreading of dry spots and elongating the thin film regions to increase thin film evaporation.