This paper reports the critical heat flux (CHF) enhancement that was observed experimentally when a porous metal was placed in a small flow channel (hereafter, this channel is called a “porous microchannel”). In the porous microchannel, the CHF value increased almost linearly with increased values of the mass flux and the inlet subcooling. In consequence, higher cooling performance was achieved under high mass flux and high inlet subcooling conditions. It was also found that considerable fluctuation of the pressure loss frequently encountered in a small heated channel disappears in the porous microchannel. It was considered that the stabilization of the pressure loss can mainly be attributed to inhibition of the formation of large bubbles. The effects of the material and the pore size of the porous metal were also investigated. Silver and nickel were selected as the porous metal material and the pore size tested was 0.2 and 0.6 mm. In the present experiments, the CHF value was not influenced significantly by the material in spite of the distinct difference of the thermal conductivity between silver and nickel, whilst it was dependent noticeably on the pore size. It was hence suggested that the CHF enhancement observed in this work was mainly caused by the complex thermal-hydraulic field formed in the porous microchannel. Preliminary results of the flow visualization performed to reveal the mechanisms of the CHF enhancement in the porous microchannel was also reported.

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