The past decades have witnessed the diverse applications of boiling heat transfer enhancement in the removal of high density heat flux released by electronic components or power devices. People have developed many enhanced surfaces to obtain the highest heat transfer coefficient in nucleate boiling or to raise the CHF. In the boiling arena bubbling and nucleation site density play core parts, and hence it is crucial to correlate them quantitatively with surface structure and heat transfer conditions. For example one can determine by that correlation the best arrangement of boiling cavities for a given heat flux. However, the bubbling is highly influenced by inter-bubble actions. It has been found that the interactions can considerably change the bubble’s size, frequency and spatial distribution. The interactions are needed to be taken accounts of for a good correlation. Researchers tried to formulate the interactions as a single function of the inter-site spacing but have obtained contradictory conclusions, as suggests that they depend also on other parameters. In the present study we conducted a saturated boiling heat transfer experiment to investigate the interactions with respects to both the inter-site spacing and the wall thermal conductivity. The test section was fabricated by both copper and stainless steel, whose surface has two cylindrical artificial cavities of 50μm in diameter. It was heated with a uniform heat flux. The results show that both the bubble diameter Db and frequency f are functions of the inter-cavity distance s, but they vary in different manners in the copper and the stainless steel surfaces. In the copper surface, we observed evident enhancement of the boiling heat transfer at 1> S >0.4 and a slight inhibitive effect at 1.6> S >1, where S = s/Db. On the contrary the two nucleate sites in the stainless steel surface interfere with each other giving rise to evident suppression of boiling heat transfer at 1.6> S >0.65 and only slight enhancement at 0.65> S >0.3. Note that the copper’s thermal conductivity is 22 times larger than the stainless steel. Numerical simulation has revealed that the temperature variation beneath the copper cavities is much less than the stainless steel, which partly explains the differences in our experimental results. It is suggested that modeling the bubble interactions should take accounts of not only the distance-to-diameter ratio but also the fluid and wall properties.

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