Electrical control and enhancement of dropwise condensation
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Condensation of vapor typically occurs via the formation of condensate films on condensing surfaces; however, the liquid film imposes a substantial thermal resistance to heat transfer. Filmwise condensation heat transfer can be enhanced by 5-7X by condensing vapor as droplets, which roll-off the surface, thereby preventing buildup of a liquid film. Dropwise condensation heat transfer can be enhanced by the use of electrowetting (EW) to enhance coalescence, growth and shedding of condensed droplets. This dissertation includes several fundamental studies on EW-enhanced dropwise condensation. Experiments, analytical modeling and statistical modeling are used to gain a deeper understanding of droplet growth, coalescence and shedding under EW. Chapter 1 details the motivation for this study and the objectives of this dissertation. Chapter 2 includes a literature review of condensation, electrowetting and data science- based statistical methods. Chapter 3 presents a detailed experimental study of dropwise condensation of humid air under the influence of electrowetting fields. An analytical heat transfer model, which accounts for the presence of non-condensable gases, is used to predict the heat transfer benefits associated with electrowetting-assisted condensation. Chapter 4 presents a detailed analysis of electrowetting-induced coalescence dynamics of a distribution of water droplets. Statistical modeling-based algorithms are used to identify key electrowetting-related parameters that influence droplet coalescence; the influence of these parameters on coalescence is quantified. Chapter 5 studies droplet shedding dynamics under electrowetting and shows that an intermittent electric field can significantly increase condensation rates (as compared to a continuous electric field). A key finding is the almost complete removal of water from surfaces in very short durations (< 1 sec) is observed. It is also found that the extent and rate of water removal depends on the applied voltage and frequency of the AC EW waveform, respectively. Chapter 6 presents a novel approach and an experimentally validated model to analyze the oscillations of water droplets under the influence of AC electrowetting. Chapter 7 summarizes key conclusions and outlines suggestions for future work. Overall, the research reported in this dissertation has led to fundamental contributions in the areas of condensation and microfluidics. This multidisciplinary work has involved experiments, analytical modeling and statistical modeling. Results show that electrowetting fields influence all the phenomena important in dropwise condensation (growth, coalescence, shedding of droplets). Electrowetting is therefore a powerful tool to control and enhance condensation heat transfer. This research impacts applications in energy (steam condensation, refrigeration), water (atmospheric water harvesting, desalination) and infrastructure (self-cleaning).