Past research in the area of pool boiling within the presence of electric fields has generally focused on the case of uniform field intensity. Any numerical or analytical studies of the effect of non-uniform fields on the motion of bubbles within a dielectric liquid medium have assumed that the bubbles will retain their spherical shape rather than deform. These studies also ignore changes to the electrical field caused by the presence of the bubbles. However, these assumptions are not necessarily accurate as, even in the case of a nominally uniform electric field distribution, bubbles can exhibit considerable physical deformation and the field can become noticeably affected in the vicinity of the bubble. This study explores the effect that a non-uniform electric field can have on vapor bubbles of a dielectric fluid by modeling the physical deformation of the bubble and the alteration of the surrounding field. Numerical results show that the imbalance of electrical stresses at the bubble surface exerts a net dielectrophoretic force on the bubble, propelling the bubble to the vicinity of weakest electric field, thereby enhancing the separation of liquid and vapor phases during pool boiling. However, the proximity of the bubble to one of the electrodes can considerably alter the bubble trajectory due to an attractive force that arises from local distortions of the potential and electric fields. This phenomenon cannot be predicted if bubble deformation and field distortion effects are neglected.

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