The present investigation is an original study in nucleate pool boiling heat transfer combining theory and experiment in which water boiling at atmospheric pressure on a single copper surface at two different levels of heat and different levels of subcooling was studied. Cross spectral analysis of the signals generated by the emission of bubbles at adjacent nucleation sites was used to determine the relationship of the time elapsed between the start of bubble growth at the two neighbouring active sites with the distance separating them. The experimental results obtained indicated that for the lower level of heat flux at three different levels of subcooling, the elapsed time and distance were directly related. Theoretical predictions of a temperature disturbance propagating through the heating surface in the radial direction gave good agreement with the experimental findings, suggesting that this is the mechanism responsible for the activation of the surrounding nucleation sites.

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