Multiphase flow phenomena in single micro- and minichannels have been widely studied. Microchannel heat exchangers offer the potential for high heat transfer coefficients; however, implementation challenges must be addressed to realize this potential. Maldistribution of phases among the microchannels in the array and the changing phase velocities associated phase change present design challenges. Flow maldistribution and oscillatory instabilities can severely affect heat and mass transfer rates as well as pressure drops. In components such as condensers, evaporators, absorbers and desorbers, changing phase velocities can change prevailing flow regimes from favorable to unfavorable. Geometries with serpentine passages containing pin fins can be configured to maintain favorable flow regimes throughout the length of the component for diabatic phase-change heat and mass transfer applications. Due to the possibility of continuous redistribution of the flow across the pin fins along the flow direction, maldistribution can also be reduced. These features enable the potential of high heat transfer coefficients in microscale passages to be fully realized, thereby reducing the required transfer area, and achieving considerable compactness. The characteristics of two-phase flow through a serpentine passage with micro-pin fin arrays with diameters 350 μm and height 406 μm are investigated here. An air-water mixture is used to represent two-phase flow through the serpentine test section, and a variety of flow features are visually investigated using high-speed photography. Improved flow distribution is observed in the serpentine geometry. Distinct flow regimes, different from those observed in microchannels are also established. These observations are used to obtain void fraction and interfacial area along the length of the serpentine passages and compared with the corresponding values for straight microchannels. Models for the two-phase frictional pressure drops across this geometry are also developed.

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