Recently, microchannel heat sinks have been emerged as a kind of high performance cooling scheme to meet the heat dissipation requirement of electronics packaging and integration. In this study, an experimental investigation of subcooled flow boiling in a high-aspect-ratio rectangular microchannel was conducted with de-ionized water as the working fluid. In the experimental operations, the mass flux was varied from 200 to 400 kg/m2s and the imposed heat flux from 3 to 20 W/cm2 while the fluid inlet temperature was regulated constantly at 90 °C. The boiling curves, onset of nucleate boiling (ONB), and flow patterns of subcooled flow boiling were investigated with the aid of instrumental measurements and a high-speed camera. The slope of the boiling curves increased sharply once the superheat needed to initiate the onset of nucleate boiling was attained, with lower superheat required of boiling incipience for lower mass fluxes. Meanwhile, the initiative superheat and heat flux of onset of nucleate boiling were compared with the existing correlations in the literature with good agreement. As for the flow visualization images, slug flow and reverse backflow were observed, where transient local dryout as well as rewetting occurred. A facile image processing tool was developed to profile the transient development and progression of the liquid–vapor interface and partial dryout patches in microchannels, which proved that the physical quantities of bubble dynamics for the elongation period during subcooled boiling could be well detected and calculated.

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