This work is aimed at presenting experimental heat transfer coefficients measured during condensation inside a single square cross section minichannel, having a 1.18 mm side length. The experimental heat transfer coefficients are compared to the ones previously obtained in a circular minitube. This subject is particularly interesting since most of the mini and microchannels used in practical applications have non circular cross sections. The test section used in the present work is obtained from a thick wall copper tube which is machined to draw a complex passage for the water; its geometry has been studied with the aim of increasing the external heat transfer area and thus decreasing the external heat transfer resistance. This experimental technique allows to measure directly the temperature in the tube wall and in the water channel. The heat flux is determined from the temperature profile of the coolant in the measuring sector. The wall temperature is measured by means of thermocouples embedded in the copper tube, while the saturation temperature is obtained from the saturation pressure measured at the inlet and outlet of the measuring sector. On the whole, more than seventy thermocouples have been placed in the 23 cm long measuring section. Tests have been performed with R134a at 40°C saturation temperature, at mass velocities ranging between 200 and 800 kg m−2s−1. As compared to the heat transfer coefficients measured in a circular minichannel, in the square minichannel the authors find a heat transfer enhancement at the lowest values of mass velocity; this must be due to the effect of the surface tension. No heat transfer coefficient increase has been found at the highest values of the mass velocity where condensation is shear stress dominated.

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