Heat transfer performance in pool boiling is largely dictated by bubble growth, departure, and number of nucleation sites. It is a well known phenomenon that adding surfactants can lower the liquid-vapor surface tension and increase the bubble departure frequency, thereby enhancing heat transfer. In addition to faster departure rates, surfactants are observed to dramatically increase the number of nucleation sites, which cannot be explained by simple surface tension arguments. Furthermore, it is not well understood which surfactant properties such as chemical composition and molecular structure affect boiling most significantly. From our experiments using Triton X-100 and Triton X-114 nonionic surfactants, we attribute boiling enhancement mainly to adsorption to the solid-liquid interface. Using the Mikic-Rohsenow model for boiling, a simple linear adsorption model, and the Cassie-Baxter description for contact angle, we developed a model that shows agreement with experimental results. This work offers some insights on how to predict boiling enhancement based on surfactant chemistry alone, which may aid in choosing optimal surfactants for boiling in the future.

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