Two-phase microchannel cooling promises high heat flux removal for high-performance electronics and photonics. However, the heat transfer performance of flow boiling microchannels is limited by the critical heat flux (CHF) conditions. For variable heat inputs and variable fluid flows, it is essential to predict CHFs accurately for effective and efficient two-phase microchannel cooling. To characterize the CHF and pressure drop in flow boiling microchannels, a separated-flow model is proposed in this paper based on fundamental two-phase flow mass, energy, momentum conservation and wall energy conservation laws. With this theoretical framework, the relationship among liquid/vapor interfacial instability, two-phase flow characteristics and CHF is further studied. This mechanistic model also provides insight into the design and operational guidelines for advanced electronics and photonics cooling technologies.

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