This research experimentally investigates the heat transfer performance of open-micro channels under filmwise condensation conditions. Filmwise condensation is an important factor in the design of steam condensers used in thermoelectric power generation, desalination, and other industrial applications. Filmwise condensation averages five times lower heat transfer coefficients than those present in dropwise condensation, and filmwise condensation is the dominant condensation regime in the steam condensers due to a lack of a durable dropwise condensation surface. Film thickness is also of concern because it is directly proportional to the condenser’s overall thermal resistance. This research focuses on optimizing the channel size to inhibit the creation of a water film and/or to reduce its overall thickness in order to maximize the heat transfer coefficient of the surface. Condensation heat transfer was measured in three square channels and a plane surface as a control. The sizes of the square fins were 0.25 mm; 0.5 mm; and 1 mm, and tests were done at a constant pressure of 6.2 kPa. At lower heat fluxes, the 0.25mm fins perform better, whereas at larger heat fluxes a smooth surface offers better performance. At lower heat fluxes, droplets are swept away by gravity before the channels are flooded. Whereas, at higher heat fluxes, the channels are flooded increasing the total film thickness, thereby reducing the heat transfer coefficient.

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