Accurate steady and unsteady numerical solutions of the full two-dimensional (2D) governing equations for the Nusselt problem (film condensation of quiescent saturated vapor on a vertical wall) are presented and related to known results. The problem, solved accurately up to film Reynolds number of 60 (Reδ60), establishes various features of the well-known steady solution and reveals the interesting phenomena of stability, instability, and nonlinear wave effects. It is shown that intrinsic flow instabilities cause the wave effects to grow over the well-known experiments-based range of Reδ30. The wave effects due to film flow’s sensitivity to ever-present minuscule transverse vibrations of the condensing surface are also described. The results suggest some ways of choosing wall noise—through suitable actuators—that can enhance or dampen wave fluctuations and thus increase or decrease heat transfer rates over the laminar-to-turbulent transition zone.

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